After taking a 21-16 lead into the second quarter and blowing that lead out to 15 with 2:01 left before halftime, it felt like Marquette women’s basketball was well on its way to another relatively easy victory in Big East play.
That..... did not happen.
St. John’s kept the game from getting out of control in the third quarter and mounted a rally in the fourth before finally falling by the wayside, 83-73, at the McGuire Center on Sunday afternoon. Marquette is now 7-0 in Big East play, 16-3 overall, and still in complete solo control of first place in the league.
Marquette’s MO this year has been the big big win. They have an average scoring margin even today after this 10 point victory of 23.9 points per game. That’s not just in their wins, that includes the losses, too. Through 18 minutes on Sunday, it seemed like Marquette was on the edge of tipping this game into that territory, too. St. John’s just never went away. With Curteeona Breelove’s bucket to open the scoring in the second half, the lead dipped to 10, and it would peak again at 15 at two different points, both caused by Danielle King putting the ball in the net. For the rest of the third quarter, the score wobbled in between those two points, and the usual Marquette tidal wave that we’ve seen so many times this season never quite crashed over the Johnnies. A bucket from Brelove late in the period cut the lead to single digits briefly before King knocked it back to 12 with a triple to close out the frame.
And then the Red Storm just kept whittling.
Tiana England cut it to seven. Brelove cut it to six. A triple from Akina Wellere cut it to five. Another triple from Wellere made it just four, with 4:14 to go. While all of this was going on out in front of the Red Storm bench, Marquette was kicking the ball all over the gym, committing four of their 16 turnovers in the game in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. It was never an official run by the Red Storm, not really. It was a 15-7 outpacing more than you could really call it a run.
From there, the teams traded scoring exchanges and England slashed MU’s lead back down to four at 74-70with just 2:22 to go. Finally, Marquette said no more. The Golden Eagles stemmed the tide with a free throw split by Erika Davenport and a pair of freebies from King before Natisha Hiedeman stepped in front of a St. John’s pass for her seventh steal of the game and an easy transition basket to push the lead to nine with 55 seconds to go. More free throws from Davenport and Hiedeman were just bonuses as the Golden Eagles eventually posted the W.
It was really just a case of everything that was going right going less right for the Golden Eagles in the second half. They shot the ball a lot worse, St. John’s shot the ball a lot better, the two teams went opposite directions in terms of turnovers, and St. John’s grabbed a whole ton of offensive rebounds, too. After getting to less than 19% of their misses in the first 20 minutes, the Red Storm secured 33% of their missed shots after halftime, and that goes a long way towards helping your comeback cause.
577 words in and we should finally address the fact that Allazia Blockton returned from injury in this game. She went out early in Marquette’s first Big East game with an ankle injury and had not played at all in the intervening five games. She came off the bench here, subbing in for Selena Lott at the 5:34 mark of the first quarter. She played 13 minutes in the game..... and that is pretty much the highlight here. She missed her only shot, grabbed one rebound, committed a foul, and had a turnover. The end.
Natisha Hiedeman finished with 23 points to lead both teams on the day, but it was her other contributions that were the big items for the day. She had a game high five assists and as mentioned earlier, came up with seven steals, which is just as many as the rest of her teammates combined. Erika Davenport may have had the biggest impact on the game, going for 20 points and 16 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double, and added three assists and a steal, too.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Marquette will head out on the road next weekend for the final two games of their first pass through the Big East schedule. They’ll be in Cincinnati to face Xavier (10-8, 1-6 Big East) on Friday evening before heading to Indianapolis to see Butler on Sunday afternoon. The game against the Bulldogs is still carrying a bit of importance, but it’s not as big as it used to be after BU lost in triple overtime to Providence on Friday. Still, Butler is 6-1 in league play which puts them in second place and makes them the only non-Marquette team with fewer than three losses in league play. To a certain extent, the regular season title may turn on next Sunday’s game.