Whether by plan or by necessity, Wednesday night was a big night for Marquette super senior Lauren Van Kleunen.
On the night that she broke the women’s basketball program record for games played, the Ohio native tore Milwaukee apart for a career high 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting as the Golden Eagles went across town and secured a 59-51 victory over the Panthers. The win moves Marquette to 7-2 on the season.
Nine turnovers between both teams in the first quarter went a long way towards letting us know exactly how this game was going to go. By the time 40 minutes went past, Marquette and UWM had combined for 38 turnovers, well over 25% of possessions in the game in both directions. But thanks to Marquette’s shots going in and the Panthers somewhat forgetting that they’re not a good three-point shooting team, the Golden Eagles were up 13-8 at the end of 10 minutes.
Buckets in the middle of the second quarter from Van Kleunen pushed the Golden Eagles’ advantage to 10, 19-9, with 5:37 to go, and after a UWM free throw, LVK got MU to an 11 point lead, 21-10. It was starting to look like Marquette was figuring out a thing or two about a thing or two as they started to grow their lead over the Panthers, but 11 points was the best that they could do. Milwaukee never got closer than eight, either, so it was more of a situation of getting to 11 and then just trading buckets with the home team.
Six straight from Van Kleunen started off the second half, and suddenly, just 2:07 into the third, Marquette was up 17. About to run away with it, you’d think, but three Marquette turnovers helped pave the way for Milwaukee to stay in this game. We nearly went the final 2:30 without either team scoring, but Liza Karlen flipped in a layup from a Jordan King feed with 41 seconds left and UWM’s Macy McGlone answered on the other end to send things to the fourth just 12 points apart, 39-27.
In the fourth quarter, both teams remembered that points are neat. No one had scored more than 16 points in any quarter so far, but both teams had 20+ in the fourth. Free throws were the name of the game for the first two minutes, and eventually back-to-back buckets by Karlen and Chloe Marotta had Marquette up 16 with 6:21 left to go.
UWM answered with six straight to make it a 10 point game with 4:22 to go, and MU head coach Megan Duffy called time to break up the run. It worked, with King getting two freebies on the next possession, but Milwaukee suddenly lit on fire. A three-pointer from Sydney Staver cut the margin into single digits for the first time in the second half, and after a bucket from Van Kleunen, Miquela Santoro cashed a three for the Panthers to make it an eight point game with 3:12 to go.
These are literally half of the three-pointers that the Panthers recorded in the entire game.
Guess what? They had another one coming.
Staver again, with 1:25 to play, made it an eight point game, and with all the turnovers running around in this game, this one was clearly not over yet.
But UWM didn’t have time to let things go, and a foul by Staver sent Chloe Marotta to the line where she drained both free throws. 10 point game, 1:15 to go.
Milwaukee hurried themselves into a turnover, but Marquette handed it back... but also now there was less than a minute to play. The Panthers took another 17 seconds off the clock trying to get a three-pointer to cut into the lead quickly, but Emma Wittmershaus missed, and even more time fired off the clock. Marotta eventually sent Staver to the free throw line where she cut the margin to just eight, but now there was only 27 seconds left.
This was where things slipped away from Milwaukee and directly into Marquette’s hands. There was only so much time left, and the Panthers just let too much of it go. Was it slightly dramatic that it was suddenly down to single digits with less than 30 seconds to go? Sure, but everybody knew, no matter what Sydney Staver had done a few minutes earlier, that UWM’s chances were gone.
Van Kleunen’s 25 led everybody in scoring as the Panthers had no idea what to do with her when she got the ball on the block. She also had three rebounds and two assists in the process. Marotta was the only other player in double digits in points with 13, and she added 10 rebounds for a double-double plus three assists, a block, and two steals in 31 minutes. Jordan King just barely missed a double-double on nine points and nine assists, and she wasn’t too far from a triple-double with seven rebounds, too.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles “return” home for their next game, even though they didn’t leave Milwaukee for this road game. North Dakota comes to town on Saturday afternoon for a 4pm Central start, and may I just say if you’re going to be downtown for the men’s game against UCLA, come over to the McGuire Center immediately afterwards for this one. UND is 4-4 on the year and comes in on a three game winning streak with two of those coming on the road.