The old cliche is that it only matters who’s winning at the end. The corollary to that idea is that the only plays that matter are the ones that give you that lead at the end.
With that in mind, we can make a pretty strong case for Selena Lott as game MVP for Marquette women’s basketball’s 57-52 victory over Villanova on Sunday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center.
Lott is Marquette’s leading scorer this season, averaging over 15 points per game overall and nearly 16 points per game in Big East action so far. On Sunday? Only six points, but they came at perhaps the exact right moments for Marquette.
Through 29 minutes of action, Lott had yet to score, although it wasn’t for lack of trying. Lott found herself caught up in Marquette’s overall struggles to put the ball in the net in this game, missing her first five shots of the game. That’s not surprising, by the way, because as the leading scorer, she had to be towards the top of the scouting report for the Wildcats, and they’re an excellent defensive team.
But, as the third quarter’s final minute wound down, Lott got into the lane for her first bucket of the game, and as it happens, that bucket knotted the game at 43 each. Marquette had fought back to tie the game at halftime after trailing by six in the second quarter, and just a minute before Lott’s bucket, Madison Seagrist had scored two of her game high 25 points to stake Villanova to a five point lead. And yet, that didn’t matter, because the game had been, thanks to Lott, stripped down to a 10 minute contest to see who could end up on top at the end.
Lott started the fourth quarter on the bench, as head coach Megan Duffy gave her a little bit of an extra rest tacked onto the between periods break. She was back in less than 90 seconds into the quarter, and less than a minute after that, she scored her second basket of the game, putting Marquette up by four, 49-45. That was followed by MU ending Villanova’s ensuing possession by way of a Jordan King steal, and once again, Lott scored going to the rim. Six points in the span of four minutes for MU’s junior leader and, as the fates would have it, Marquette led by exactly six.
From there, Marquette was able to keep the Wildcats at arm’s length. Villanova eventually worked themselves into a bucket to make it a four point game, MU immediately answered on the other end. Three times this happened as the fourth quarter wore on, and the Wildcats were never able to get closer than four points. Villanova started fouling once the clock went under a minute left, but because Marquette wasn’t in the bonus yet, it took four tries to finally send a Golden Eagle to the line, and when it finally happened, Lauren Van Kleunen added one final point to her team high 19 on the day, and that was that.
While it was Lott’s late six that made the difference on the scoreboard, it’s Marquette’s control of the glass all game long that may have had the biggest 40 minute impact on the game. Marquette decimated the Wildcats on both ends, grabbing 49% of their own missed shots while holding Villanova to just 19% of their own. 18 Marquette offensive rebounds turned into 17 second chance points for the Golden Eagles, while VU only managed three second chance points on seven offensive rebounds.
Two Golden Eagles — Van Kleunen and Isabelle Spingola — racked up 11 rebounds in the game, and together, they tallied 10 on the offensive end. Six Golden Eagles managed at least one offensive rebound, and the team put two more on the board when Villanova fumbled a Marquette miss out of bounds. Both Van Kleunen (19) and Spingola (10) got into double digits in points to record a double double, but it was Lott who added a career high 10 assists to go with her six points and six rebounds for maybe the most impressive line of the day.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Marquette has hit the middle of league play now, sitting at 6-3 and in a three-way tie for second place in the league with Butler and St. John’s. They’re also at the mid-point of a four game home stand. They’ll be back out on the McGuire Center floor on Friday night when Providence comes to town. The Friars are 1-8 in Big East play after getting their first win by beating Xavier on Sunday.