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Back On Track: #8 Marquette 109, Seton Hall 63

Well, whatever Friday was seems to have been fixed for the Golden Eagles. It may just have been the change in opponent.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Marquette at Notre Dame
Natisha Hiedeman went OFF for Marquette on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Is it good when you outscore your opponent by at least 11 points in every quarter? That sounds good. It seems pretty good when you look at Marquette women’s basketball’s 109-63 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday. With the win, Marquette is now 21-4 overall on the year and 13-1 in the Big East and teetering on the edge of clinching the regular season championship.

The 109 points scored by the Golden Eagles is the most scored by a team in the Big East since 2012 and, obviously, the most that MU has scored this season. Because I know you’re wondering right now, the team record for points in a game is 115 tallied against Valparaiso back in January of 1992.

This one got out of control fairly early. Seton Hall’s Desiree Elmore split a pair of free throws at the 3:18 mark of the first quarter to pull the Pirates within three of Marquette at 9-6. That’s mostly okay and expected in terms of first quarters. You’d expect a team to score between 15 and 20 points per quarter, generally speaking, right? So this is all within the margins there.

And then....

Danielle King scored 18 seconds later, Marquette got a stop and Natisha Hiedeman got free for a transition bucket. Wash, rinse, repeat, and this time it’s Hiedeman splashing a triple in transition. Boom, 10 point lead. A little later on, Isabelle Spingola bracketed a Nicole Jimenez three-pointer with two long range bombs of her own, and that’s how you get to 22-11 heading into the second quarter.

For a brief moment in the second quarter, it looked like Seton Hall would turn this into a game. After just 2:15 of the frame, the lead was down to six. And that’s when things got really nuts, as the Golden Eagles ripped off a 21-3 run. 45-21, 2:07 left in the half. The lead would never go back lower than 21.

Hiedeman gave Marquette a 30 point margin for the first time late in the third when she — wait for it — buried a three in transition, and it was Hiedeman again, burying a three in transition again to knock the lead past 40 for the first time with 6:46 left to go.

You may have gathered at this point that Natisha Hiedeman was very very good on this day, which is pretty big news for two reasons. First, she was objectively bad on Friday night as Marquette fell apart in the second half on their way to their first loss in Big East play, so it’s very good to see her bounce right back from that. It’s also a big deal because head coach Carolyn Kieger started this game off with both Hiedeman and Allazia Blockton on the bench after both women were objectively bad on Friday night. Blockton wasn’t surprising, as she hasn’t started since returning from her mid-season ankle injury, but Hiedeman not starting was. It’s not surprising that Kieger went in this direction, as she has been unafraid of yanking anyone from the starting lineup during her tenure. Everything is earned, one way or another.

But back to Hiedeman. Here’s the details: A new career high 34 points on 14-of-18 shooting, including an absolutely ridiculous 6-of-8 from behind the arc for a personal effective field goal percentage of 94.4%. I mean, what do you even do with that if you’re Seton Hall and head coach Tony Bozzella? As if the shooting wasn’t enough, Hiedeman added five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Baaaaaananas.

This was not a game that lacked in good performances behind Hiedeman, either. Danielle King had a double-double on 20 points and 12 assists in what would have been a headliner performance on nearly any other day this season. Amani Wilborn had a nice little 9/4/4 afternoon on CBS Sports Network, and Isabelle Spingola made the most of her spot in the starting lineup in place of Hiedeman with nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Blockton did have a quiet game, tallying just eight points in 18 minutes after racking up two personal fouls pretty quickly. By the time that Kieger felt comfortable putting her back into the game late in the second quarter, Marquette was already up 19 and five points away from the end of that 21-3 run that broke the game open. At that point, there’s not much reason to keep your All-American candidate not that far removed from an ankle injury out on the court all that much, so it’s not surprising that she only played 12 minutes after halftime. Still, though, Marquette is going to need her to step up in a big way if the Golden Eagles are going to make the kind of March run that they seem to be capable of making.

Up Next: It’s time for the final home games of the year. Butler comes to Milwaukee on Friday night, fresh off of losing to Providence in overtime on Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles will be looking to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season title in that game, and if they win on Friday, locking up the #1 seed in the Big East tournament will be on the table on Senior Day against Xavier. That is going to be a whole thing, I can just tell. Get your tickets now, y’all.