The Megan Duffy Era at Marquette started out with a bang, as the Marquette picked up the 70-48 victory over Morgan State on Tuesday afternoon at the McGuire Center. It was the season opener for Marquette, as well as Duffy’s first ever game as Marquette’s head coach, and thus both MU and Duffy are now 1-0.
The story of the game was the second quarter, pure and simple. A free throw by Altia Anderson with 1:14 left in the first quarter pulled Marquette into a 13-13 tie with Morgan State. Anderson’s freebie was the first in a 14-0 run by the Golden Eagles, as it turned out. Marquette outscored the Bears 16-3 in the second period, and a split pair of freebies by Selena Lott wrapped up the run at the 2:45 mark of the quarter. MSU got their first points in nearly 10 minutes on a jumper from Ja’niah Henson to make it a 26-15 ballgame and a Destiny Strother triple shortly thereafter ended up sending MU to the locker room up 13, 29-16.
Lott opened up the second half scoring with a triple, and Marquette’s lead would only dip back down to 13 points one more time for the rest of the game. Morgan State never scored back-to-back buckets in the entire third quarter, but MU never pulled away either, leading by just 15 headed to the fourth. The Bears managed to close it to 13 on back-to-back buckets in the fourth quarter, making it 44-31 with 8:20 left to go on another Henson shot in the lane. A quick 8-2 burst from Marquette with threes from Lott and freshman Jordan King on either end pushed the margin to 19 and a bucket from Chloe Marotta crested MU into 20 point territory right before the midway point of the quarter. Camryn Taylor laid one up and in with 3:36 to go to put the Golden Eagles up by 20 or more for good, and it was just coasting it in the rest of the way from there.
I’m making it sound like it was an easy win for the Golden Eagles, and from certain views, that’s true. They outshot the Bears easily, 54% effective field goal percentage to just 37% thanks to big three-pointer days from Lott (4-for-7), King (2-for-6), and Isabelle Spingola (3-for-7). MU enjoyed a rebounding edge on both sides of the floor, getting 15 second chance opportunities while enjoying their hot shooting. What wasn’t going well for Marquette was ball control. The Golden Eagles turned it over 20 times in the game, ending nearly 30% of their possessions by coughing it up. The good news is that Morgan State tried to keep up with them, giving it away on 22% of their possessions. That helped even things out a bit, but the turnover thing is a problem.
That’s the thing, though: This can largely be handwaved away at this point. Marquette has five returning players, two of whom did not contribute all that much last season, along with six freshmen, five of whom saw the floor in this game. That’s a lot of relative inexperience both at the Division 1 level as well as as teammates with each other. The good news is that the turnovers were largely localized in the newcomers. Jordan King had four in 34 minutes, while Taylor Valladay had three in eight minutes and Nirel Lougbo matched Valladay in just seven minutes. That’s literally half of them right there, and Chloe Marotta added another three. Selena Lott, who will be called on to do a lot of heavy lifting this season? Just one in a team high 35 minutes.
Lott led the team in scoring with 24 points, and she was joined in double digit territory by Spingola with 13 and Taylor with 10. Lott added two rebounds and six assists to her day, but the assist lead for the game goes to King. The Big East’s preseason Freshman of the Year had nine points, four rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and a block in her collegiate debut. So far, so good. Marotta had nine rebounds to lead MU in that column, and she added seven points and two assists to the proceedings.
All in all, the best possible result for Duffy in Game #1: An easy win without any stress at the end, but a lot of things to work on in practice going forward. Speaking of going forward, though......
Up Next: Marquette won’t get all that much time before their next game to practice. St. Francis College comes into the McGuire Center on Thursday night. The Terriers started out their year with a home 86-73 loss to Stony Brook on Tuesday night.