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Marquette Women’s Basketball Can’t Hold On Against Butler

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Villanova at Butler
Yeah, that’s not a Marquette player, but that’s what you get when you score 23 points in a half like Kristin Spolyar.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette women’s basketball went five straight minutes without a field goal on Friday night in Indianapolis, and, uh, well, they picked the worst possible five minutes to do it.

The five minutes in question was five of the final six minutes of their road game against Butler, and as a result, the Golden Eagles went from up three when Isabelle Spingola hit a three with 5:49 to go to down two when Altia Anderson scored with 52 seconds to go. That was perhaps the biggest problem with MU’s performance, or at least the most important one, and that’s maybe/probably why Marquette left Hinkle Fieldhouse with a 61-55 loss when the final horn sounded.

There’s honestly a lot of other contributing factors in this game other than not being able to hold onto a four point lead with 4:45 to play, as was the case after Selena Lott hit a free throw to put MU in that position. For example:

  • What if Marquette had figured out a way to shut down Kristen Spolyar sooner? The senior guard went for 23 points in the first half as Butler had a 29-25 lead at the intermission. I want to say that again: Spolyar had 23, Marquette had 25, the rest of Spolyar’s teammates had six. The non-Spolyar Bulldogs were a combined — and this is not a joke — 1-for-18 in the first half. Just nothing happening OTHER than Spolyar going 10-for-15 including 2-for-5 behind the arc. Seeing as she finished with only 30 points on 11-for-18 shooting, we’re left to wonder what would have happened if that kind of defense had tightened down on her sooner.
  • What if Lauren Van Kleunen had played more than 10 minutes? The redshirt junior forward is Marquette’s most dynamic interior player, at least on offense, and she had six points and three rebounds before clattering hard to the floor after playing just 10 minutes. She would not return, although she was back out on the bench by the time the game came to an end. I feel it’s important to note at this point that Van Kleunen is a redshirt junior because she sat out during her first year at Marquette because of blood clots and as someone with experience in that department, “falling very hard onto a hardwood floor and being unable to continue playing” is definitely something that sounds worrisome in that regard.
  • What if Marquette had been able to take advantage of the rest of Butler’s squad being objectively bad in the first half? Let’s be honest: 29 points with 23 coming from one player is not a good half of basketball. You can see that in the fact that Marquette ultimately held the Bulldogs to just 0.88 points per possession for the game. However, the Golden Eagles weren’t lighting it up themselves. Marquette shot just 33% from the field in the opening 20 minutes and were oh-fer from downtown on six attempts. Had MU’s offense been able to click in a more productive fashion, maybe they have a lead at the half instead of barely being able to outscore Spolyar by herself.

I could get into the gritty details of exactly what happened down the stretch as MU lost the lead and ultimately lost the game, but it’s all such a bummer that I really don’t want to do it. It’s a lost opportunity for Marquette to secure a victory in league play, and the fact that they had a road win in their hands before it slipped away makes it all the more annoying.

Up Next: As always, it’s a quick turnaround for the Golden Eagles. On Sunday afternoon, they’ll be in Cincinnati to face Xavier. The Musketeers dropped to 2-15 on the season and 1-5 in Big East play after suffering a 91-68 loss to #14 DePaul at Cintas Center on Friday. It has all the makings of a game where the Golden Eagles can get back on track, but they have to take it seriously. Even with the lopsided score, XU’s A’riana Gray still went for 18 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists in a foul-laden 21 minutes against the Blue Demons.