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Well, That Happened: St. John’s 81, #8 Marquette 74

A 14 point lead evaporated on the Golden Eagles as they lost for the first time in league play.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Marquette at Notre Dame
Erika Davenport’s double-double wasn’t enough for the Golden Eagles.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

A career high 24 points along with 13 rebounds from Erika Davenport and a season high 22 points from Amani Wilborn just didn’t matter for squat on Friday night in New York. #8 Marquette women’s basketball raced out to a 14 point lead in the second quarter, but let it fall by the wayside and lost to St. John’s, 81-74. It was the first loss in Big East play for the Golden Eagles, leaving them with a record of 12-1.

I hope someone figures out how to shoot Carnesecca Arena straight into the sun.

It’s been a time honored tradition around these parts, or at least the parts on Twitter connected to these parts that Rebounding Margin Is Not A Thing. I’ve said it time and time again and here and there people give me static about it. No longer. I can wave this box score around in the air when I am questioned about Rebound Margin Not Being A Thing. I can hire a skywriter to emblazon it into the clouds: Marquette had 43 rebounds in this game against just 30 for St. John’s, and the Red Storm won by seven. Those 13 extra rebounds for Marquette didn’t matter in the slightest when it came to determining who won this game, did they?

Part of the charm of Carolyn Kieger’s system is that, to a certain extent, her five core seniors are interchangable in terms of which one is dominating any particular game. That works the other way, though, as everyone does need to contribute to the overall structure of the system. If it’s Erika Davenport and Amani Wilborn’s day to go off as they did, then it’s up to everyone else to flip their roles over into something else that Marquette needs.

I make this point to illustrate what happened here.

Natisha Hiedeman: 1-for-4 shooting, three points, four rebounds, five assists, five turnovers, and fouled out in 31 minutes.

Allazia Blockton: two points on two made free throws, 0-for-9 shooting, six rebounds, four turnovers in 21 minutes.

That’s... uh... not good. That’s definitely not good in the general picture, where it’s fine if Wilborn and Davenport are great but you still need something from those two. It’s definitely not good when you have to figure that Hiedeman is the odds on favorite for Big East Player of the Year at this point and Blockton was POY a year ago as well as preseason POY this year. Both women were.... just not there. That’s particularly accurate for Blockton, who has been coming off the bench since returning from her ankle injury, but spent an awful lot of time on said bench tonight because her usually accurate shooting just completely abandoned her.

Marquette led by 14, 30-16 with 7:51 left in the second quarter. They appeared to be opening up a can on St. John’s.... but then the Johnnies scored seven straight and held the Golden Eagles without a field goal for over five minutes. The lead dwindled to as low as six, but a transition layup from Selena Lott gave the Golden Eagles an eight point advantage heading into halftime.

That’s as big as MU’s lead ever was in the second half. Alisha Kebbe opened up the scoring after the break with a triple, and MU never led by more than seven ever again. It took the Johnnies the entirety of the third quarter to whittle that lead all the way down, but two free throws from Kayla Charles with 35 seconds left gave the Red Storm the lead. It was tied heading into the fourth quarter thanks to a Davenport bucket, but it was more and more apparent as time went on that the wheels had just completely come off for Marquette at some point long before then.

It can’t be overstated that Marquette led by three points, 67-64 with 6:54 to go, and they lost by seven. Over the final seven minutes of the game, St. John’s outscored Marquette 17-7, and quite honestly, had you told me the margin was wider, I would have believed you. Just absolutely nothing worked out down the stretch for Marquette even though they very clearly had their chances to stop St. John’s before it got out of control.

They .... just didn’t.

And here we are now, with Marquette pocketing their first loss in conference play and putting off clinching a Big East regular season title til next weekend, it seems.

Up Next: By nature of the travel partner system, it’s a quick turnaround for Marquette. They’ll be back in action at 11am Central time on Sunday when they pay a visit to Seton Hall. The Pirates took a 94-85 loss to DePaul on Friday night for their third straight defeat. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, so let’s hope that the Golden Eagles iron out whatever their rough patches were in Carnesecca Arena quickly.