Well, someone out there in the universe decided that Marquette fans hadn’t had quite enough stomach churning opponent rallies over the past two weeks, and Tuesday night added one more to the pile.
The top seeded Golden Eagles were up 13 in the third quarter, six at the start of the fourth quarter, and four with 3:06 to go, but it was all for naught, as #2 seeded DePaul completed the rally and defeated Marquette, 74-73, in the Big East championship game at Wintrust Arena. With the win, DePaul has now beaten Marquette in consecutive Big East title games, but that gives them just a 3-6 record against the Golden Eagles over the past three seasons. Go figure.
A back and forth first quarter left us with a 20-20 tie, but the Golden Eagles were able to build a nine point lead midway through the second. That was good, but it didn’t last. DePaul immediately ripped off nine straight of their own, and quite honestly, Marquette was a wee bit lucky to be up five at the half. Not just for getting the lead back, but it required a bad turnover by Chante Stonewall right after inbounding after a bucket by Amani Wilborn. That gave Wilborn another shot at another bucket at the horn on a wonderfully designed play, and thus, 40-35.
That 4-0 run to end the half turned into a 10-0 run as Selena Lott and Allazia Blockton buried triples to open the third quarter, and it extended all the way out to 14-2. Danielle King put Marquette up 50-37 with 7:19 to go in the period.
It was all going in what we would call a positive direction here.... and then it just wasn’t. DePaul scored seven straight to take more than half the lead back, and with 2:09 to go, Stonewall pulled the Blue Demons within one. 5:10 elapsed, 12 points of margin gone. Arguably, there’s your game right there.
MU got four straight before the quarter ended to lead by six. Lott hit a contextually miraculously wide open Altia Anderson in the lane for the world’s easiest layup to make it a five point game, 70-65, with 3:29 to go. It’s not locked up, but Marquette had control. Natisha Hiedeman hit a pair of free throws with 3:06 to go to lead by four..... and then Marquette did not score again until there was 11 seconds left. DePaul did just enough to be in position down the stretch for Stonewall to take it to the rack and draw a foul from Lott while draining the layup. She popped in the free throw for a one point lead, and because MU didn’t have any timeouts remaining because they couldn’t inbound the ball moments earlier, the Golden Eagles had to go the length of the court. Hiedeman couldn’t get a clean quality look, the horn sounded, and the confetti flew over the Blue Demons.
In their hands....... right up until it wasn’t.
I’m getting very tired of writing/talking/thinking about this scenario.
Hiedeman led Marquette with 18 points, and added six rebounds and three assists, too. It wasn’t a good game for the Big East Player of the Year, as she shot just 6-for-18 from the field after that final missed off-balance jumper. All five Golden Eagles starters ended up in double digits, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough. Stonewall finished with 28 points as Marquette had no answer for her anywhere on the court. 3-for-5 outside the arc, 8-for-12 inside the arc. Only Lexi Held was able to hit double digits as well for DePaul as MU’s defense forced DePaul into a 31% shooting night from outside the arc. The Blue Demons love shooting threes, and if you can keep them under 33%, you’re doing something right.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Marquette will wait til Monday night to find out where they’ll start their NCAA tournament journey. ESPN’s Charlie Creme updated his bracket projection just after midnight, and he has the Golden Eagles as a #5 seed and headed to Texas to play Quinnipiac. Perhaps if MU had won this game, their chances of hosting the first two rounds would still be alive, but it seems that’s highly unlikely at this point.