The Marquette Golden Eagles used a huge spark from Amani Wilborn to defeat the Butler Bulldogs in the first game of the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal round, picking up the 73-61 victory. When I say huge, I’m talking 26 points on 9 of 11 shooting (!) and get this...4 for 6 (!!!) from three point land. Wilborn is shooting 29% for the year from behind the arc so you gotta give her the tip of the cap for coming up big when the Golden Eagles needed. The Big East Tournament’s most outstanding player from last year is on fire lately averaging just over 19 points per game in her last four games. Kinda like I was yesterday when I made six cups in a row in “water” pong to win in the funtivities that transpired before the men’s team played Creighton.
Gotta brag about it somewhere right?
Anyway, back to the game that got the Golden Eagles into the semis of the Big East Tournament.
Don’t let the score fool you: MU won by 12 but it was neck and neck most of the game. It wasn’t until the final three minutes when Marquette established their dominance and pulled away from the Bulldogs. Butler led by four at the end of the first quarter with strong play from Michelle Weaver and a zone defense that Marquette struggled to solve. Weaver led her team with 7 points at the end of the first. But MU came back to take the lead in the second, and had a slim one point advantage at the break with the score 33-32.
The lead flip-flopped a couple times in the opening minutes of the third but Marquette wouldn’t regain it until the 5:21 mark when Lauren Van Kleunen hit a layup. MU had its largest lead later in the quarter up seven with a minute to go and took a 54-50 lead into the fourth. After MU gave the lead right back to Butler at the start of the fourth, they closed the game on a 14-2 run (no, really) in the last five minutes to end all hopes the Bulldogs had of the upset. Yep, Butler only managed to score two points in the last five minutes of the game. Yikes.
I opened raving about how well Amani Wilborn played, but it wasn’t just her scoring that was impressive. She also had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals to compliment her 26 points. The other two players in double figures for MU were Natisha Hiedeman with 15 and Big East Player of the Year Allazia Blockton with 12. This just proves that any Marquette player can go off any given game and propel this team to a victory. Today it was Amani Wilborn, but who will it be tomorrow? Who knows. Creighton (MU’s next opponent) certainly doesn’t which makes this Golden Eagle team so hard to defend. Just watch these highlights and see how Marquette finally took apart the Butler defense.
At one point the announcer on FS2 said, “the speed of Marquette can be blurring.” I think that’s the perfect way to describe MU’s offense. Speaking of being blurring, the Butler offense seemed to have been blurred as they committed 17 turnovers which led directly to 22 Marquette points. We’ve seen this by the Golden Eagles before and we’ll see it again. They have made a habit of frustrating opposing offenses with their high pressure defense.
Up Next: I briefly mentioned this earlier, but Marquette’s next opponent will be the Creighton Bluejays as they were able to win a close one against St. John’s this afternoon. 66-58 was the final in that one. This first semifinal game will tip-off at 3pm Central time on FS1.
Creighton is one of the three teams that’s beaten the Golden Eagles in Big East action this season, so it should make for a tough one. The Bluejays got a huge performance from Jaylen Agnew who led the team in both points and boards with 23 and 8. MU should definitely be extra wary of her in tomorrow’s game. In other tournament news, DePaul crushed Seton Hall to advance to the second semifinal game. As I’m writing this the Villanova-Georgetown game is 15 minutes away from tip-off. The Blue Demons will take on the winner of that game in semifinal numero dos.