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Short Notice Doesn’t Slow Down Marquette Against Cincinnati

The Golden Eagles started out on a 16-0 run and took things from there.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Villanova vs Marquette
I only have so many Selena Lott pictures.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati announced that they would be hosting Marquette women’s basketball back on Monday evening. I’m presuming that both sides knew that the game was at the very least likely to happen 24 hours earlier than that. That meant that both teams had around 96 hours notice, maybe a little more.

While Cincinnati was the home team and while the Bearcats announced the game first, they were definitely the less prepared squad at tipoff on Thursday afternoon at Fifth Third Arena. Marquette induced eight turnovers in the first five minutes of the game while launching themselves out to a 16-0 lead, which provided a nice firm basis for a 86-75 MU victory. The Golden Eagles are now 3-1 on the season with one announced non-conference contest left to go this season.

That 16-0 start for Marquette became a 22-2 lead on a bucket by Taylor Valladay with 2:54 left to go in the first quarter. Of course, Cincinnati wasn’t going to remain this inept all game long. The lead was 15 at the end of the first quarter, and it would wobble between 13 and 20 for the entire second quarter. A last second free throw by Jordan King sent Marquette to the locker room holding a 49-30 advantage, and a Lauren Van Kleunen layup a little over two minutes into the third quarter gave the Golden Eagles a 21 point lead at 54-33.

LVK didn’t convert the and-1 freebie on that, though, and that was the start of a run of Not Great Times for Marquette. Turnovers by Marquette on five straight possessions let the Bearcats climb back into the game, and a layup by Jadyn Scott made it a 13 point game with 6:02 to go. Van Kleunen snapped the Bearcat run with a free throw, but Arame Niang buried a triple and that was followed by a layup from Addaya Moore, and badaboooom, Cincy was within 10 points, 55-46, with 3:33 to go in the frame.

Marquette answered with eight straight, with six of them coming from Selena Lott, who was an absolute terror on this day. The senior from New York shot 11-for-14 from the field to finish with 26 points, and you can argue that none were more important than the three layups she threw in here.

That burst from the Golden Eagles left them up 17, and the margin would be 15 heading to the fourth quarter. The Bearcats got the first four points of the quarter to pull within 11, but a triple from King followed by a split pair of free throws from Lott and a layup on MU’s following possession by Lott again rammed it back to a 17 point game, 71-54.

A three-pointer from Claire Kaifes made it a 20 point game again, this time with 3:14 to play. The Bearcats kept pushing though, and Marquette’s final scoring on the day came in the form of two free throws from freshman Liza Karlen. That was with 1:02 to play, and they put Marquette up 86-69. UC would score three buckets in the final minute of the game to make this thing look a hell of a lot closer than it actually was all along.

It sounds like I’m being dismissive of the majority of the game, sure, but Marquette also wasn’t truly challenged once they went up 22-2 after seven minutes of action. However, we can’t ignore the fact that UC did outscore Marquette 73-64 for the final 32:53 of the game. If you want to toss out the final three buckets in the final minute when this thing was definitely over, it’s still 67-64 in Cincinnati’s favor for that 32 minute stretch. Did Marquette get to relax and bend but not break all game long thanks to their fantastic start? Yes. Perhaps that will be beneficial down the road when MU finds themselves in a game that’s tight down to the wire.

While Lott was dominant on this afternoon, she doesn’t get top scorer honors for the game. That goes to Ilmar’l Thomas, who shot 9-for-11 from the field and 14-for-16 from the stripe to get to 32 points for the Bearcats. To a certain extent, that’s a bad defensive job by Marquette, as Thomas was the obvious #1 name on the scouting report, and you could argue that she could/should have been #2 and #3 on there, too.

All told, four Golden Eagles scored in double digits, with Jordan King (15 & 8) and Camryn Taylor (10 & 6) adding at least five rebounds to the effort as well. Chloe Marotta had a quality game across the board, adding eight points, five rebounds, a game high four assists, a block, and two steals. Taylor Valladay and Rose Nkumu popped up off the bench to chip in three assists each in 15 and eight minutes respectively.

Up Next: Marquette is out on the road again for their next contest. They’ll be in Nashville on Sunday afternoon to square off with Belmont to wrap up the scheduled non-conference games for the season. That game is set for a 2pm Central time tip-off, and it’ll be broadcast on ESPN+. The Bruins are 2-1 on the season after wrecking Tennessee State, 83-35, on Thursday.