I don’t even know where to start.
#13 ranked Marquette dug themselves into an early hole on Friday night in Omaha, falling behind by double digits in the first quarter and by as many as 20 in the second before finally taking a 71-65 loss to Creighton. The Golden Eagles are now 23-6 overall and 14-3 in the Big East. As a result of the loss, MU has still not clinched the outright Big East regular season title.
Okay, look. Very very big picture, no, this loss does not mean a whole lot. Marquette is still guaranteed at least a share of the Big East title, so that banner gets raised no matter what. They’ve already clinched the #1 seed in the Big East tournament. They’re a stone cold lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if they don’t win the conference tourney, regardless of this loss.
And yet, this feels like a massive disaster on multiple levels.
Level #1: Marquette got absolutely worked for most of the game by Creighton. They were down 26-13 after one quarter, and down 20 with six minutes and change to go til halftime. They kept throwing punches at the Bluejays, and the Bluejays kept answering with flurries of their own. Sure, that final margin looks like this was a nailbiter, but it wasn’t. The Jays were up 13 at the start of the fourth quarter, pushed it up to 15 a few times, and were still up 10 with 39 seconds left.
Level #2: This was Marquette’s first road game since losing Erika Davenport to a season and collegiate career ending knee injury. Instead of buckling their collective belts a little tighter to grind out wins without her on the final road trip of the regular season, MU let this game get away from them early.
Level #3: They couldn’t put away sole possession of the regular season title. Look, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Marquette gets to share the title with DePaul. It would be really nice to do, since Marquette had the games in front of them to be able to do it. This was their first chance to do exactly that since clinching the title last Sunday against Xavier, and they put together this goose egg of a game. They get one more crack at it on Sunday, but failing in such an impressive way here leaves a really bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Level #4: Allazia Blockton was essentially a no-show. The Big East Preseason Player of the Year missed all four of her field goal attempts, had one assist on Marquette’s first basket of the game, and fouled out in 12 minutes. Three fouls in seven first half minutes, two fouls in five second half minutes. I don’t have the patience to pull together every single game log for her, but given the circumstances involved, this has to be one of the three worst performances of Blockton’s entire collegiate career. As Friend Of The Blog and White & Blue Review contributor Matt DeMarinis put it from inside DJ Sokol Arena on Friday night: “I’ve never seen a player of that caliber on the men’s or women’s side take themselves out of a game that quickly.”
Level #4: Marquette’s wiggle room on getting to play home games for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament is getting increasingly smaller. When the NCAA selection committee did their dippy bracket reveal, Marquette was unbeaten in league play and sitting with a #3 seed. Right now, they’re 2-3 since the reveal. Odds are they’re going to take a fourth loss in the Big East tournament unless something major changes in how they’re going to approach the games that they’re playing. Look, it’s not an independent thing to decide whether or not MU gets to stay in the top 16 overall seeds and host games at the McGuire Center. Other teams are doing things around them that may impact things as well. But these losses are not helping, not even in the slightest.
Level #5: Danielle King had to be carried off the court in pain during the fourth quarter. I don’t know whether she’s fine or not at this point. All I know is “carried off the court in pain” is exactly the description of what happened to Erika Davenport against Butler. If you thought that Marquette’s margins for error were shrinking at a rapid pace due to losing what Davenport brought to the team, I can’t even begin to put into words how tiny the margins could be now with potentially two-fifths of the starting lineup done for the year. Fingers crossed, I suppose.
Am I missing something here? Probably. This game was bad, both in a singular sense and in a long term sense.
Up Next: Marquette wraps up the regular season on Sunday afternoon against Providence. The Friars have lost two straight after their 76-61 defeat against DePaul on Friday night. The Golden Eagles can clinch sole possession of first place in the Big East with a win.