Because Marquette Golden Eagles turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and another 10 times in the second half, things got and stayed super tense at Curb Event Center in Nashville on Sunday afternoon. Marquette led by 10 in the middle of the third quarter, but with three seconds left, Belmont Bruins was inbounding from in front of their own bench with a chance to tie the game and force overtime.
Chloe Marotta swallowed up the space in front of Whitney Hay, so she ended up rushing her stepback three-point attempt to make sure it was off before the buzzer. It was definitely going to count if it went down.
and off, to the waiting hands of Marquette guard Selena Lott. And so, the Golden Eagles leave Nashville with a 64-61 victory over Belmont. Marquette is now 4-1 on the season and all done with scheduled non-conference games. The Golden Eagles are also 3-0 on the road this year.
Let’s just cut right to the chase with it, shall we? Marquette made this game much much much much much harder than it had to be. 15 turnovers on 36 first half possessions is really awful, and somehow, even with that being the case, it took a buzzer beater by the Bruins to give them a lead heading into intermission. Marquette did not solve their turnover problem in the second half, giving the ball away another 10 times. Two of those turnovers came in the final minute of the game, long after Claire Kaifes broke a 61-all tie with her second three-pointer of the quarter with 1:39 to go to put MU up three.
Yes. Even after all of that, Marquette had a chance to actually nail down the win and go home without drama, but they just could not bring themselves to end a possession with a shot. Not even a made shot, just a shot. In MU’s defense, neither turnover in the final minute was a goofball dumb mistake. Lauren Van Kleunen got trapped up by two Belmont defenders and ending up losing the ball out of bounds. Chloe Marotta had the ball poked away from her and in the process of the scuffle to regain possession, she took a step. These things happen.
Turnovers also happened on 23 other possessions in the game, so it was just two more spots where things just could not go right for the Golden Eagles. Same thing with Jordan King’s two missed free throws after Belmont missed a layup with just four seconds left. Could have put the game away. Didn’t happen. Not King’s fault, because this game shouldn’t have come down to that.
I can say this with confidence because Marquette was up 10 after an and-1 by Van Kleunen with 6:25 left in the third quarter AND up nine with 1:45 left in the third after a pair of freebies by LVK AND up seven after Kaifes’ first three of the fourth quarter with 7:15 remaining. So, so, so many chances to shut the door, and MU never did it, not until Hay’s shot rattled free.
So many other things worked out so well for Marquette. The Golden Eagles posted an effective field goal percentage of 50% in the game, thanks to 6-for-18 long range shooting on the day. They hauled in 42% of the possible offensive rebounds in the game, with four different players getting at least two. Marotta had four all by herself. Belmont couldn’t avoid fouling Marquette all game long, as was expected from the preview that we had on the site before the game, allowing the Golden Eagles to shoot 23 free throws in the game while attempting only 50 field goals. We can talk about MU only hitting 14 of those freebies, sure, but since Belmont only attempted 16, who cares?
Definitely not Megan Duffy, as her defenders held Belmont to an effective field goal percentage of just 37.9% for 40 minutes. Even better than that, Marquette completely took Madison Treece out of the game. I don’t mean “Treece had a bad game,” I mean Belmont head coach Bart Brooks took his leading scorer out of the game. Treece was 0-5 from the field in nine minutes in the first half. In the third quarter, she missed a shot badly with 8:35 to go. Brooks lifted her at the 7:47 mark, and the 6’4” center did not return to the game. At all. With one personal foul in 11 minutes played. Is part of that a personal choice by Brooks? Sure. Did he make a decision because he felt forced into it by Megan Duffy and her staff and her players? Definitely looks like that.
Lauren Van Kleunen gets the trophy for top scorer in this one, as she finished with 20 points, 13 of which came after halftime. Selena Lott was.... well, we have to stop from calling it sublime. She finished the game with 18 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and a steal. That is, in fact, sublime, especially since she was just 4-for-6 from the field to get those 18 points. We can’t call her entire afternoon sublime, because Lott was responsible for seven of Marquette’s 25 turnovers. That’s, uh, a real problem. In fact, Marquette’s entire starting five all committed at least three turnovers in the game. Liza Karlen had a big second half for Marquette, putting up two points, three rebounds, two assists, and a block and a steal in 16 minutes thanks to fouls against Camryn Taylor.
Up Next: It’s time for some league play! St. John’s comes to the McGuire Center on Wednesday afternoon for a 2pm tipoff. The Red Storm are 2-3 on the year after losing 63-61 on the road to UMass on Sunday afternoon. They’ve lost all three in a row now, including dropping their league opener 74-65 to Villanova.