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Marquette Gets An Offensive Explosion Against North Dakota

It was a great day on the scoring end of the court, and in more ways than one.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament - Providence v Marquette
Chloe Marotta was doing all the little things for Marquette on Saturday against North Dakota.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If there was doubt about how Saturday’s Marquette women’s basketball game was going to go at the midway point of the first quarter, the Golden Eagles quickly erased that doubt. Karissa McLaughlin drained a three at exactly the five minute mark of the opening period, kicking off a 9-0 run and a 13-2 run to the end of the quarter. Marquette was already up six when McLaughlin hit her jumper, and the Golden Eagles were up 17, 29-12, after 10 minutes.

The rest of the game was pretty much academic. By the end, no Marquette player saw more than 26 minutes of action as head coach Megan Duffy leaned into her bench with a lead and the Golden Eagles defeated North Dakota 89-65. MU is now 8-2 on the year.

North Dakota happened to be the team on the other side of the court on Saturday, but I suspect most teams in the country would have had a hard time beating Marquette in these circumstances. The Golden Eagles shot at least 60% in each of the first three quarters of the game after coming out hot. They shot a whopping 72.2% from the field in the first quarter, and thanks to a 3-for-4 performance behind the arc, the team’s effective field goal percentage was a patently absurd 80.6%. If you’re North Dakota, what are you supposed to do with that?

Things did not slow down much after that, although Marquette’s three-point shooting did. The Golden Eagles were still scoring nearly at will for the next 20 minutes, which is how they ended up leading by 22 at halftime and by 34 with 10 minutes left to go. When they missed, and that only happened 30 times all game, including on the back end of free throws, MU did what Duffy wants them to do: Get that miss for a second chance. The Golden Eagles snared over 43% of their misses in this game, and that’s just terrifying levels of offensive efficiency.

One thing I did not realize was happening live while I watched the game from the comforts of the McGuire Center was how well the Golden Eagles were distributing the ball. 33 assists on 40 makes is pretty great. Six players with at least three assists is pretty great. That’s what you get from the stat sheet. But it took seeing the postgame recap from for me to discover that Marquette was historically great at finding the open woman in this game. 33 assists matches the program record for assists in a game. How long has that record stood? SINCE JANUARY 6, 1988! That’s crazy!

Leading the way for Marquette in this game was Lauren Van Kleunen, who will be breaking her own record for career games played in every contest the rest of the way this season. In just 24 minutes of action, she scored 20 points on 10-for-11 shooting. She also added five rebounds and three assists. Still, if you ran this through an algorithm, there’s a chance that Chloe Marotta might end up as MVP for the game. Six points on 3-for-7 shooting isn’t the best mark in the known universe, of course, but she had game highs with 12 rebounds and eight assists as well as a steal in 24 minutes while navigating around four fouls. In the words of Detective Lester Freamon, all the pieces matter.

Up Next: The Golden Eagles will get a little bit more than a week off for finals before returning to action. It’ll be their third Big East game of the year when that happens, although there’s still one more non-conference game to be played. Seton Hall will be the opponent, and Marquette will be out in South Orange for that one on Sunday, December 19th. Tipoff against the Pirates is set for 11am Central. SHU is just 4-4 on the year after being picked to finish ahead of Marquette in the Big East this season, although they’ll be hosting UCF between now and when the Golden Eagles arrive in New Jersey.