Marquette women’s basketball blitzed #16 DePaul right out of the gate on Sunday afternoon, and never let up. Well, maybe not never let up, but never let up to truly put the game at risk. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 15 in the first quarter, by 16 at the half, and were up 22 early in the third quarter before withstanding a mighty Blue Demons push to hold on for a 90-83 victory. The win puts Marquette at 22-7 on the year and 13-5 in Big East play. Thanks to help from Seton Hall earlier in the day, the Golden Eagles had officially already clinched the #2 seed in the Big East tournament, but had they not gotten that, the win at the McGuire Center would have done the trick as well.
Oh, and it’s head coach Megan Duffy’s first win over a ranked opponent. Not just at Marquette, but in her three years as a head coach after starting her career in the big chair at Miami-Ohio. So that’s fun.
Marquette coming out of the gate with a big push against DePaul isn’t surprising. That’s what happened in the first meeting this season against the Blue Demons down in Chicago in the first Big East game of the season for both sides. MU had the early advantage there, leading 12-9 after 10 minutes. This one.... this was a little different. Marquette was up 12-4 before four minutes were played on Sunday afternoon, and it was a transition basket from Selena Lott with 3:32 to go that put Marquette up 15 at 23-8. But DePaul’s a good basketball team, and their early struggles faded. The margin was only seven at the end of the first quarter, and the Lexi Held bucket with seconds to go started off a 10-2 Blue Demons run that dug three minutes into the second quarter and cut Marquette’s lead down to just one, 29-28.
This, too, was an awful lot like the game in Lincoln Park, where Marquette held control of the first 12 minutes or so and then everything went sideways on the Golden Eagles. But that was a different Marquette teams at the end of December. This team has grown and matured since then, and they absorbed that blow and answered with one of their own. MU punched back with an 8-0 run to kick the lead back out to nine, and then closed the half on a 13-2 run punctuated by this triple from Selena Lott at the horn.
Very reminiscent of Natisha Hiedeman’s buzzer beater at the McGuire Center against DePaul during the 2017 Big East tournament, same end of the court and everything, so very astute call by John Fanta on the FS2 broadcast.
That had the Golden Eagles up 16 at the half and obviously feeling much better about things than when it was just a one point game just a little earlier. Megan Duffy’s halftime speech hit home, and MU came out of the locker room with a three from Isabelle Spingola and a pair of freebies from Lauren Van Kleunen to push the margin to 21, the first time it had cleared 20 in the game. Jordan King would push the lead to 22 with 5:42 left in the frame, but the Blue Demons still had some tricks in their bag. Six of Marquette’s 24 turnovers on the day would come after that King bucket and DePaul cut that 22 point lead in half on a bucket in the paint by Deja Church with less than a minute to go. MU was up 14 heading into the fourth, though, thanks to King and the miracles of physics.
King kept the good times going to start the fourth quarter, snagging a steal and scoring. The Golden Eagles got another stop, and Altia Anderson scored to get the lead to 18, 70-52. That was the start of a 12-2 run for the Golden Eagles that pushed the lead back up to 22 with 7:21 to play.
Then DePaul remembered that they’re a good three-point shooting team. Through the first three quarters of the game, the Blue Demons had connected on just four of their 19 long range attempts. Holding a ranked team to just 21% on three-point attempts is a good way to pull off an upset. That didn’t hold, though, as Chante Stonewall hit a three with 6:59 to go. That was the first of seven makes on 11 attempts in the fourth quarter for DePaul.
Triples on three straight possessions, another from Stonewall and two straight from Kelly Campbell suddenly had the game at 80-68 with just over five minutes to play. Ten points had disappeared from the Golden Eagles’ lead almost before they knew where to look. Still, they were the ones with the lead, and they were the ones that just had to make enough plays to make things harder for DePaul.
A couple of quality stops and that 12 point lead held until there was 3:30 to go. Held cut it to 10, and after the two sides traded turnovers, Campbell and Held sandwiched a split pair of freebies by Lott with three-pointers, and now it was an eight point game, 83-78, with 1:23 to go.
The time there is the major component of all of this. Yes, Marquette was up 22 just six minutes earlier. Yes, DePaul had cut 14 points out of that lead in those six minutes. But it was taking too much time. Marquette was doing just enough to make that clock run and keep DePaul from being able to see the finish line well enough.
At this point, the Blue Demons had to start fouling to create possessions. Selena Lott canned a pair, Lexi Held coughed it up. Lott split a pair, Stonewall missed a three and MU got the rebound. King sank a pair, and Campbell got blocked in the paint by Lott. Just enough to keep the Blue Demons at bay. It was a 10 point game then, and Marquette got out in front of the Blue Demons in transition to push it to 12 and cap the win.
27 seconds left at that point, and DePaul head coach Doug Bruno knew when he was beat. He called off the dogs, and Marquette won.
Oh! Somehow I got through all of this without mentioning Marquette’s six point play! That’s what pushed Marquette’s lead back 22 early in the fourth quarter! Lauren Van Kleunen scored in the paint and was fouled. She missed the freebie, Altia Anderson got the rebound and scored on the stick back..... and also got fouled. She missed her free throw too.... and then Isabelle Spingola grabbed that rebound and scored, cleanly this time, on the stick back. One possession, three made shots, six points. I’m not saying it was the only reason that Marquette turned the ball over on 29% of their possessions and still scored 1.07 points per possession, but it definitely did not hurt.
Four of Marquette’s starters scored in double digits in this one, led by 22 from Van Kleunen. She also had seven rebounds and three assists, which fit the theme of the day as everyone was doing a lot of things all over the stat sheet. Lott narrowly missed a triple-double with 20 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Anderson had 10 points and 12 rebounds, seven of which came in the first quarter alone as Marquette jumped all over the Blue Demons early on. Spingola was the only starter without 10 points, but she had nine to go with six rebounds, two assists, a block, and two steals.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS2 and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: With the #2 seed in the Big East tournament, Marquette proceeds directly to the quarterfinals this coming Saturday evening. They will play a team that advances from Friday night’s doubleheader, which will be either #7 Villanova or #10 Xavier. The Wildcats technically finished in a tie for third place in the Big East, but it is a five-way tie at 11-7, and someone had to end up in seventh.