Marquette spent the first three quarters of Friday night’s Big East opener nearly doubling up Xavier in each 10 minute period. 25-13, 19-11, 18-10 in each of the first three quarters of the game, and all of that resulted in the Golden Eagles eventually taking a 30 point lead late in the third. By the time the final horn had sounded, the Golden Eagles had a 76-48 win in their pocket, and they were 1-0 in Big East play and in a five-way tie for first place in the league by the end of the night.
If we’re being honest about it, this game was probably decided when Marquette ripped off six straight early in the first quarter. Following Xavier’s first bucket of the game and a miss on each end, Lauren Van Kleunen kicked off the burst with bucket in the lane, followed by Jordan King getting into the paint, and then a transition jumper from Karissa McLaughlin. 10-2 Marquette.
This prompted a timeout from Melanie Moore over on the Xavier bench, and things did not really get better for the Musketeers. They kept it within shouting distance, answering threes from King and McLaughlin to keep the margin under 10 for the time being. King drained another three — her second and final long ball of the game — with 3:17 left in the first to take a 19-8 lead, and Marquette’s lead would never go under 10 again.
Xavier scored the final three points of the first, and the first bucket of the second to make it 25-15, and then Marquette ended it. 10 straight from the Golden Eagles from four different players — LVK was the only two-time contributor — and that was that. McLaughlin’s jumper with 6:05 to go before halftime put Marquette up 20, 35-15, and the Musketeers couldn’t recover.
Sure, Marquette never got further away than 20 before halftime, but it was 20 once again at the break thanks to a pair of freebies from Julianna Okosun, and after five minutes and 21 seconds of the second half, the lead was 30. As Bill Paxton said in Aliens, Game over, man, game over!
Marquette solved a big problem they were having in their first six games in this one, and unfortunately, they solved it in an unrepeatable fashion. With the way Megan Duffy wants the Golden Eagles to crash the boards on both ends — and MU grabbed half their misses here to continue to lead the country in offensive rebounding rate — it’s going to be damn near impossible to beat MU when they’re hitting threes. They’ve struggled with that so far this season, but came out and cashed seven of their 12 long range attempts against the Musketeers. You almost feel bad for XU, as they have to watch that happen and say “oh, come on, they’re not supposed to do that.”
7-for-12 isn’t the unrepeatable part, although MU isn’t likely to shoot 58% on long range attempts again this season. No, the unrepeatable part is Karissa McLaughlin going five for five from outside the arc. Sure, she’s Purdue’s all-time leader in made triples, but she’s never been a 40% shooter in a season before, and she’s sure as hell not going to be perfect on five tries regularly.
It was, however, encouraging to see Jordan King hit two three-pointers in the first quarter to help drive the offense in the early going. She’s up to 33% on the year now, and if she can keep that up to merely keep defenses honest, it’s going to make the rest of her offensive capabilities even more dangerous.
McLaughlin led Marquette with 20 points in this one, and she had seven assists as well. Assists were the name of the game against Xavier, as Lauren Van Kleunen and Chloe Marotta each had five to get MU to 20 helpers on just 30 made buckets. King and Van Kleunen both joined McLaughlin in double digit town with 14 and 10 points respectively, while Liza Karlen posted her first career double-double on 14 points and 11 rebounds. She had two blocks and a steal as well, and if we can just get her three-point shooting figured out — she’s 0-for-17 this year after shooting 40% last year — well, then Marquette’s really going to have something cooking on offense.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloHoops?
Up Next: It’s Big East play, so that means Friday/Sunday turnarounds. At least MU gets the benefit of being at home here, and, uh, well, they get the benefit of clattering Xavier and facing a team on Sunday coming off a clattering. Butler dropped to 0-7 on the year after a 101-64 loss to DePaul to open up Big East action for the Bulldogs. Can Marquette beat BU by more than 37? Will they have to score over 100 to do it? Those answers and more at 2pm Central at the McGuire Center!