With a ugly performance in an overtime loss last time out while shorthanded for Marquette, and results all over the map for Green Bay through three games, I had no idea what to make of Tuesday night’s bird-on-bird women’s basketball clash between the Golden Eagles and the Phoenix. Mix in the fact that Green Bay is the favorite in the Horizon League, the fact that MU is 9-35 against GB all time, MU just snapped a six game losing streak a year ago, and MU not getting a win in Green Bay since 2007..... well, it seemed like the odds were tipping against the Golden Eagles in their first road game of the season with a very young roster.
And then Marquette jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes.
And then they held Green Bay scoreless between the 5:39 mark of the first quarter and the 6:00 mark of the second quarter. That’s nearly 10 straight minutes without a point for the home team, and Marquette used that time to build a 16-5 lead.
Okay, maybe we would have preferred more points than that. Still, the early explosion and the defensive stand proved two things to Megan Duffy’s team: They can score on and they can defend against this Phoenix team.
Thus, things wrapped up at the Kress Center with a final score of 60-47 favoring Marquette. That moves the Golden Eagles to 4-1 on the season. For comparison purposes, if you’re into that kind of thing, Carolyn Kieger was 1-4 through five games when MU’s recently departed senior class were freshmen, including a 20 point road loss to this same Green Bay program in the season opener.
It was a slow paced game, to be sure, but Marquette took full advantage of hot outside shooting to rack up points in a hurry. Selena Lott, returning after a one game absence due to injury, combined with Isabelle Spingola and Jordan King to drain 11 of their combined 26 long range attempts for a robust 42% shooting percentage from behind the arc. Marquette’s first four makes in the third quarter overall were all from downtown, as Marquette turned a seven point halftime margin to a 16 point lead with 5:59 to go in the frame and a 15 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
At that point, it was just a matter of buckling your safety belts and holding on to win. The fact of the matter is that with 10 minutes left to play and a freshman-heavy roster, things can get interesting. That’s exactly what happened when Green Bay opened up the fourth quarter playing Marquette even and then Anna Dier and Frankie Wurtz buried Phoenix triples on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to just nine with 5:14 to go.
Lauren Van Kleunen scored in the paint to bump the lead back into double digits on MU’s ensuing possession, and after a steal by LVK on the other end, Spingola buried a three in transition to put MU back up by 14. Karly Murphy would answer on a second chance bucket for GB on the other end, but that 12 point margin is as close as the Phoenix would get as time wound down.
Going 37 minutes is proof enough that Selena Lott is back to form after missing the Northwestern game. The fact that the junior guard threw in 18 points to go with three rebounds, nine assists, a block, and four steals is merely icing on the cake. Really high quality icing on a very nice cake, but still just adding to the benefit of merely having her back in the lineup as a stabilizing influence. Lott was joined in double digit point territory by Spingola (15), King (11), and Van Kleunen (10). King continues to show why she was named preseason Big East Freshman of the Year, adding five rebounds and six assists to her points on the night. LVK barely missed a double-double, grabbing up eight rebounds with four on each end. Chloe Marotta and Altia Anderson had a quiet day in the scoring department with three points each, but they combined for 13 rebounds as the Golden Eagles controlled the glass on both ends.
Up Next: Well, it’s probably not going to be super fun, which is why it’s really good that Marquette got this win. On Monday night, Mississippi State come to town in a return bout from last season. The Bulldogs are currently ranked #10 in the country and are 4-0 on the season after smashing everyone in front of them to dust so far. They’ll visit Jackson State on Thursday night before coming to Milwaukee, but the Lady Tigers are just 1-3 so far in 2019-20. I would imagine that Monday afternoon’s new AP top 25 poll will keep the Bulldogs in the top 10.