The Golden Eagles shot just 31.9% from the field, 22.2% from long distance, and 42.9% from the free throw line across the span of 40 minutes, including an absolutely wretched 14.3% from the field in the second quarter. And yet, at the end, Lauren Van Kleunen banked in one of the uglier shots that you’ll ever see (very appropriate for this game) with 22 seconds left to go, and Marquette finished up their rally from down 12 at one point to win, 53-51. Megan Duffy’s team wraps up non-conference play with a record of 9-2 with both losses being both very close and very understandable.
The game was bad, kids. It was really bad. I already made a point about how poorly Marquette shot the ball in the game. That was surprising, because even after that disaster, MU is still ranked #51 in the country in effective field goal percentage by HerHoopStats.com. Belmont wasn’t much better, hitting 32.7% of their total shots and 28.1% of their long range bombs. However, the Bruins are not a good shooting team, ranking #203 in the country in eFG% after this one on HHS. It would seem that whatever Belmont has infected the Golden Eagles for 40 minutes.
Or, really, as it turns out, the south rim at the McGuire Center had it out for both squads on this day. Marquette had an awful half while they were on offense in front of the Belmont bench, shooting just 21.1% from the field before halftime. Isabelle Spingola hit a three from the top of the key with 1:57 to go in the first quarter, knotting the game at 12 each. MU would not score at all again until there was 5:44 left in the second when Jordan King split a pair of free throws. That freebie from King broke up a 12-0 run by Belmont that lasted over six minutes. They didn’t get another field goal until 44 seconds later when Camryn Taylor fought a shot up and in to pull Marquette within nine, 24-15. That’s nearly seven straight minutes without a bucket, totaling 10 straight missed shots, and quite honestly, Marquette was lucky to only be down nine at that point. King drilled a triple to cut Belmont’s lead in half, and King scored again to wrap things at the half and make it an eight point game, 28-20.
Halftime means the teams switch ends for the final two quarters, putting MU shooting in front of their own bench and sending Belmont to play offense on the south rim. While the Bruins weren’t good in the first half at just 34.5% shooting, the south rim got to them, with a 30.8% shooting performance in the final 20 minutes. Meanwhile, on the north end of the building? Marquette more than doubled their accuracy, connecting on 44.1% of their shots after halftime.
I know, it’s weird, but it happened. Everyone was much better by Wells Street on Saturday, and that flat out had an impact on the game.
Belmont pushed their lead back out to 10 in the middle of the third quarter, but MU answered with a 9-0 run capped by a bucket from Spingola with 2:54 to go to make it a one point game. Maura Muensterman split a pair of freebies for Belmont, and Taylor — the freshman did a whole hell of a lot in this game in very big moments — ripped down her own miss and stuck it back to send MU to the fourth quarter all knotted up at 36.
Yes, both teams managed just 36 points through 30 minutes. I told you the game was bad.
The final frame opened with Taylor — told you she had big moments — sticking a shot in to put Marquette up two, 38-36. The two sides would trade buckets, but Belmont’s reliance on shooting threes would give them an advantage in the trades. Muensterman, Conley Chinn, and Jamilyn Kinney all hit outside shots for the Bruins which resulted in a five point lead, 51-46, for the visitors with 3:35 to go.
The astute reader has just realized that Belmont would not score again.
Jordan King got to the rim. Camryn Taylor split a pair of free throws. Camryn Taylor got one of the easier buckets in the game off a post feed from Selena Lott. Tie game, 51-all, 1:12 to go. On the ensuing possession, Kinney bobbled a pass out of bounds. Marquette ball, 45 seconds to go. Time for hero work for Van Kleunen, who got the right physics on the ball on an absolutely absurd looking physical motion.
Marquette up 53-51, 22 seconds to go.
After Belmont called time to advance the ball, King committed a foul that was either a happy accident or an incredible tactical decision. It came almost immediately after Belmont engaged whatever set they had drawn up, thus throwing it in the trash because MU had fouls to give. That sent the inbounds to the end line, and the Bruins burned another timeout to draw something different up after they couldn’t inbound right away.
What they got was a kickout for an open corner three from Muensterman that clanged off the front iron to the waiting hands of Altia Anderson for one of her eight rebounds on the day. Two free throws at the other end for the senior, but she missed both and Marquette tipped the rebound out of bounds. BU burned their final timeout to advance the ball with five seconds left.
Their final look at the rim was a three-point attempt from senior star Ellie Harmeyer.... and she missed absolutely everything.
Marquette let it bounce until the refs called it out of bounds, called timeout with a second left to go to inbound it to their own end, and either intentionally or unintentionally inbounded into an absolute mess to let the clock expire. Boom, MU wins.
12 points each from Spingola and King led Marquette in this very low scoring affair. Taylor’s big day gave her nine points and five rebounds, but she also had a block and two steals. It wasn’t a very efficient performance, as she shot 4-for-14 from the field, but the ones she got to fall were at very crucial junctures for the Golden Eagles. Lott struggled from the field like almost everyone else in the game, but she finished with seen points, five rebounds, nine assists, and two steals.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will take more than a week off for Christmas, and when they next convene, it will be to start Big East play. That kicks off with three straight road games, with the first one coming on December 29th in the form of a visit to league favorite DePaul. The Blue Demons are 10-2 on the season after beating Loyola-Chicago on Friday.