You can look at Marquette women’s basketball’s 94-85 win over St. John’s on Friday night at the McGuire Center one of two ways, I think.
- Marquette just kept hitting shots of their own all game long and just waited until St. John’s started missing and thus eventually won
- Marquette’s defense eventually kicked in and smothered the St. John’s offense while MU’s offense kept scoring enough to push them past the Johnnies.
Either one is correct, I think, although I presume that head coach Megan Duffy would prefer to think of it as the second one.
Ultimately, St. John’s not hitting shots, no matter how you think of it, was the difference in the game. The Red Storm were 3-for-3 from downtown in the first quarter, 7-for-8 from three-point land at halftime, and 9-for-11 on long range bombs as the game headed to the fourth quarter. After shooting 77% from the field overall in the third quarter, SJU was shooting 61.4% from the field, and their three-point shooting gave them an effective field goal percentage of — and this is not a joke — 71.6%.
They also only led by three, 72-69, and that was only because Tiana England had hustled down the court to answer an Isabelle Spingola bucket with a layup of her own before the horn sounded.
I can’t quite say that Marquette was matching St. John’s shot for shot in this game, because that’s not entirely true. Yes, as the game entered the fourth quarter, Marquette was shooting 58% from the field and had an eFG% of 62.8%. They were doing really well! However, the reason I can’t say “matching shot for shot” is because of an 8-2 run in the middle of the second quarter capped by a transition bucket from Leilani Correa gave St. John’s a 39-27 lead.
The Golden Eagles immediately punched back on that burst from the Johnnies, with a 10-1 run, but Alissa Alston answered that with a triple for St. John’s to bump the margin back to six. It was five at the half, but Alisha Kebbe opened the scoring with a three for St. John’s, and at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, St. John’s had gotten the lead back to 12. It was Correa again, scoring in transition again, although this time it was two free throws after a foul by Camryn Taylor.
That’s not the kind of thing you want to see after you had to rally back from down 12 in the previous quarter, but Marquette answered. A bucket from Taylor jumpstarted a 13-2 run for the home team, capped by that previously mentioned shot by Spingola, and that’s how we went to the fourth quarter.
St. John’s opened the frame with the first five points, including a three from Emma Nolan. That three is important to point out. Remember a few minutes ago when I was talking about how hot St. John’s was from the field and particularly from long range? Yeah. So. The three from Nolan was the first from St. John’s since the 7:23 mark of the third quarter. Not their first make since then, their first attempt. As St. John’s built and then lost that 12 point lead, they did not attempt a long range shot, and that’s important here. They had all the positive flow in the world..... and then just threw it off the train, as if it were Danny DeVito’s mother. After the three from Nolan at the start of the quarter, St. John’s would score just two more field goals, including three misses on three-pointers.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, Marquette couldn’t be any hotter. After a turnover by Nirel Lougbo on MU’s first possession of the period, the Golden Eagles scored on their next four possessions to cut St. John’s lead down to just one point, 79-78. Chloe Marotta used some fancy footwork to give Marquette an 80-79 lead with 5:23 to go, and Lougbo went firing down the court on a coast-to-coast layup to tie the game at 82 with just 3:49 remaining.
St. John’s would not record another field goal. Just three free throws went in for the rest of the game for the Red Storm. Altia Anderson scored on back-to-back possessions for MU, and with 1:55 to go, the Golden Eagles finally took the lead and would not give it up again.
Somehow, I’ve gotten 700 words into this without mentioning Selena Lott at all, but I suppose that’s just luck of the draw as she didn’t score turning point baskets. She was, however, amazing in this game, scoring a career high 34 points on 12-for-18 shooting, including 4-for-6 from behind the arc. She also had three rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, and has become a very obvious early candidate for Big East Player of the Week. Lauren Van Kleunen was a terror inside, flipping in hook shots with the greatest of ease for 19 points and grabbing up six rebounds, and Altia Anderson did damage to the tune of 14 points, two rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal.
If you ever want to read an indictment of Carolyn Kieger as a head coach, feel free to re-read that last sentence again. This wasn’t some buy game against a team that Marquette mauled, this was a league game that needed big performances from lots of people to rally from down 12 on two different occasions. I’m not going to rattle off all of the performances, but go read the MU box score to see exactly how Duffy got contributions from nearly everyone who got on the floor in this one.
Before we wrap up, I do want to address one more thing that came up in the preview for this game. SJU’s three-point shooting was a big part of the preview, and we’ve talked about that. I want to mention Tiana England and her ball security. Overall, England was good for head coach Joe Tartamella, scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, and added two rebounds, five assists, a block, and a steal. She also committed eight of the 17 St. John’s turnovers in this game, including three in the fourth quarter, all after Lougbo’s layup to tie the game at 82. England’s ball security was a potential weak point for Marquette to exploit in this game as we discussed in the preview, and it appears that the Golden Eagles were able to do exactly that. Perhaps most importantly, they managed to exploit it the most when they absolutely needed it.
Up Next: Marquette will wrap up their home weekend on Sunday by hosting Seton Hall. The Pirates (10-6, 3-2 Big East) are coming off an 85-68 loss to DePaul on Friday night, and SHU has never beaten Marquette at the McGuire Center.