Well, it wasn’t particularly pretty to watch, but at the end of 40 minutes, Marquette women’s basketball had a 61-48 victory over Xavier on Friday night at the McGuire Center. With the win, the Golden Eagles are now 19-6 overall and 10-4 in Big East play, but undefeated at home in league contests.
Part of the reason this wasn’t a particularly aesthetically pleasing game for anyone involved is that MU’s Selena Lott spent the night on the Marquette bench not in uniform and with a walking boot on. She didn’t seem particularly bothered by the boot other than its normal awkwardness, so perhaps this was more of a protective stint on the bench for the junior guard as opposed to her being actually unavailable due to injury. We’ll see what happens in MU’s game on Sunday, but what we learned against Seton Hall last weekend is that things get very ugly very quickly for Marquette if Lott isn’t out on the floor engineering things. Thus the ugliness of the whole thing.
The first time around this season, Marquette threw together a 19-1 run in the first quarter and never looked back while beating Xavier. On this particular night, both teams shot 33% in the first quarter and Xavier held an 11-10 lead after 10 minutes. Like I said, not fun to watch. Even with Xavier coming in with just two wins on the season, I can handle trailing them at the end of the first quarter, but a combined 10-for-30 shooting from both squads? Gross.
Things turned around for the home team in the second quarter. Isabelle Spingola hit three three-pointers in that period, including two on back-to-back possessions as Marquette outscored the Musketeers 23-11. It didn’t start great, though, as Xavier built a six point lead in the first three minutes. From there, though, the Golden Eagles ripped off a 14-0 run to take an eight point lead, 26-18, and that turned into a 21-4 run to end the half.
That’s pretty good!
The Golden Eagles were up 33-22 at the break, but Xavier spent the first five minutes of the third quarter whittling that margin down to just one point. Spingola drained a second chance triple on the ensuing possession to prevent Xavier from fully wiping out the lead, and a bucket in the lane from Nirel Lougbo, who started in place of Lott, sent MU to the final quarter with a six point advantage.
As you can see from the final score, it seems that the even quarters were the good ones for Marquette on this particular day. A split pair of free throws by A’riana Gray pulled Xavier within three, but a 7-0 run by Marquette, featuring another triple from Spingola, got the lead back to 10 with 6:03 to play. Xavier eventually snapped the run to cut it to eight, but that’s the closest they would get the rest of the way. Spingola scored on the next trip down the court, and Jordan King drained a pair of ice-in-her-veins freebies with 3:32 to go to give Marquette a double digit lead for good.
Both teams finished the game with an effective field goal percentage under 45%, but MU had the advantage as they held Xavier under 38%. Both teams turned it over on more than 20% of their possessions as well, which is also no good. Marquette’s most notable advantage came on the glass. The Golden Eagles snagged 35% of their missed shots in the game, creating 13 second chance opportunities for themselves and turned those into 16 points. On the other end, MU held Xavier to just 16.2% of their missed shots, which is a very very good number. Five different Golden Eagles had at least five rebounds in the game, which is a pretty good way to get around missing your most dynamic playmaker.
Spingola’s 21 points led Marquette as she shot 7-for-17 from the field with a 5-for-11 outing behind the arc to get a personal eFG% of 55.9%. She was also part of that five pack with five rebounds and dished one assist in her free time. Camryn Taylor (10 points, five rebounds, two assists) was Marquette’s only other double digit scorer in the game, but it was probably Altia Anderson that made the biggest impact on the game. The senior from Delaware posted eight points on 3-for-6 shooting and added eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. She also drew the assignment of defending A’riana Gray, Xavier’s star player as well. Gray averages just short of a double-double and finished this game with 12 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes. However, she shot 4-for-17 in the game and didn’t score at all in the first quarter, and that’s all credit due to Anderson giving her the business on both ends of the court.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network?
Up Next: It’s kind of a big one. After the results of Friday night, Marquette is alone in second place in the Big East at 10-4. However, that’s only a half-game lead over Butler at 9-4 after the Bulldogs lost to DePaul on Friday night. Those same Bulldogs come to the McGuire Center on Sunday afternoon, and the winner of that game will be alone in second place behind DePaul afterwards. Marquette will also be out for revenge after Butler won the first meeting this season between the two teams.
We will see if Lott ends up playing in this one. It would make sense if MU head coach Megan Duffy kept her out of action against two-win Xavier as a precaution as well as to let her get healthy for Sunday. If Lott can’t go against the Bulldogs, then she might be in that boot for longer than Marquette fans would prefer to see.