Coming in to Monday’s New Year’s Eve matinee between #20 Marquette and Creighton, there was a lot of reasons to wonder who was going to win the game. Marquette had handled Providence very easily on Saturday, but along the way, Allazia Blockton, the program’s all-time leading scorer left the game after eight minutes of action and did not return. At the same time, Creighton knocked off #19 DePaul back on Saturday night in their Big East opener and it stands to reason that if they could knock one of the ranked co-favorites in the league on the road, they could absolutely do it again a second time in three days. Mix in the fact that Marquette announced that Blockton would miss the game with the ankle injury suffered against the Friars, and there were more question marks about the outcome than you’d see on a Riddler costume.
And then all five Marquette scorers scored at least 15 points and the Golden Eagles win, 85-67.
Boom. 2-0 in the Big East, tying Butler for the best record in the conference after one weekend, although because of the travel partner system, Seton Hall is also undefeated at 1-0. DePaul, co-favorites to win the league along with Marquette now sits at 1-1, and Creighton, who handed that loss to DePaul, is also 1-1.
At the end of the first quarter, it was clear that the game was already out of Creighton’s control. I don’t mean because the score was heavily tilted, because it wasn’t, 24-19. Still clearly competitive. But Creighton sits in the bottom 40 in the country in tempo according to HerHoopStats.com, and the Jays only average 70 points per game. With this thing on pace to head past 80 points, things were not going Jim Flanery’s way, and that became more and more evident as the game went on.
Creighton kept it close in the first few minutes of the second quarter, with a freebie from Payton Brotzki pulling the Jays within three. Then the floodgates officially opened. A 12-0 Marquette run triggered by triples from Amani Wilborn, Natisha Hiedeman, and Selena Lott, the starting lineup beneficiary of Blockton’s absence, suddenly flipped the lead up to 15 points, and that’s when things got unmanageable for Creighton. Marquette was able to fend off some charges from the Bluejays in the third quarter as they twice cut the lead down into single digits, but when the horn sounded at the end of 30 minutes — and Danielle King tacked on her and-1 freebie from a buzzer beating layup — Marquette was up 20 thanks to a 10-2 run to close the period, and that was pretty much that.
Up top I said that all five starters had at least 15 points, but that’s the best one sentence way to explain that. Four of the five starters had exactly 15 points, while Natisha Hiedeman had 16 to lead the way for the Golden Eagles. Lott’s 15 points was a career best for the sophomore, while King added eight rebounds and six assists to wander at least in sight of a triple double. If you dig deep on the box score, you see a lot of things that head coach Carolyn Kieger wants to see from her team, especially with their All-American candidate sidelined: 23 points off 17 turnovers, 42 points in the paint, 32 fast break points, and 19 second chance points. You’re going to win a lot of ballgames playing like that.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Marquette wraps up their run of three straight home games to start Big East play on Friday when DePaul comes to town. After the Blue Demons’ loss to Creighton, Marquette has an opportunity to make a major impact on the Big East standings if they come away with the win. Carolyn Kieger said after the Creighton win that Blockton’s status is “day-by-day, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour,” so it seems like her ankle injury is more of a temporary thing than anything else, which is good news. Tipoff on Friday is set for 7pm Central, and the game will be televised on FS1.