On Friday night, Marquette women’s basketball let a game against Butler slip away from them late.
On Sunday afternoon, the Golden Eagles made an immediate impact and left no doubt as to who would be winning. Marquette spent most of the first quarter composing a 19-1 run to take a 23-4 lead after 10 minutes on their way to an 80-60 victory over Xavier that wasn’t even as close as that. MU is now 4-3 in Big East play, sitting in a tie for fifth place with Butler and a half-game back from a tie for third place with Seton Hall and St. John’s. Xavier drops to 1-6 in the league and 2-16 overall.
Okay, so Marquette was up 19 after 10 minutes. Kind of takes the fun out of a recap, because what’s the point, honestly? Chloe Marotta gave Marquette a 20 point lead when she scored the first basket of the second quarter, and after that, MU’s lead was somewhere between 15 and 33 for the rest of the game. This was never a question of if Marquette was going to win, it was a question of how fast the game was going to take to complete. It should be noted that MU did not take that 33 point lead until the 6:52 mark of the fourth quarter, so there was certainly a lot of the two sides largely playing it even for two and a half quarters. It’s just that Marquette was up 21 before Xavier really realized what was happening.
It’s also important to point out that Xavier’s most successful part of the game was the final 6:52. Marotta had put MU up 70-37 at that point, and as you can see from the final score, Xavier did outscore MU 23-10 over that final stretch. However, eight of those XU points game in the final minute. Yeah, MU was up 28 when the clock said 1:00. You can see why Marquette might not have really cared all that much about that 8-0 run.
Let’s move on to something more fun. That’s the return of Lauren Van Kleunen to the lineup. The redshirt junior left Friday’s game after just 10 minutes of action due to thumping to the ground fairly ferociously and did not return. Here, she was in the starting lineup, so clearly being held out of Friday’s game the rest of the way was purely precautionary. LVK played 25 minutes, tallying eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal, so she’s pretty much back to normal.
The big story of the game is Marquette’s three-point shooting, even though the Golden Eagles only went 2-for-3 in the first quarter. Specifically, we’re talking about Isabelle Spingola, who cashed six of her eight long range bombs in the game, finishing with a game high 20 points, along with four rebounds, and three assists. As a team, MU shot 10-for-20 from behind the arc in the game, raising their three-point shooting percentage on the year to 35.2%, the 41st best mark in the country according to HerHoopStats.com. I continue to maintain that Megan Duffy could make a little bit better use of the shooters on her squad as a result of those numbers. However, it’s also hard to argue with Duffy’s overall offensive scheme. MU recorded an assist on 25 of their 29 field goals in this game, and obviously an 86% assist rate is very good. It’s even very good for Marquette, which ranks fifth in the country in that department at a season long rate of 71.3%.
Duffy’s defensive schemes are pretty great, too. Marquette held Xavier to just 0.87 points per possession, and perhaps more importantly, they forced shots from places that Xavier didn’t want those shots. A’riana Gray came in essentially averaging a double-double, and she got there in this game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. However, it took her 12 shots to get those 13 points. Elsewhere on the roster, the remainder of Xavier’s starting five shot a combined 10-for-40 from the field, including a 1-for-8 from behind the arc for Lauren Wasylson. That’s some good defense.
Up Next: Marquette will be back at home next weekend for two daytime starts. Friday is an 11:30am tipoff against Georgetown as it will be Field Trip Day at the McGuire Center, while Sunday will be a 2pm start against Villanova in what will be VU head coach Harry Perretta’s final trip to the McGuire Center before he retires at the end of the season.