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2021 NCAA Tournament: Marquette Loses To Virginia Tech

A wild ending ended up not being enough for the Golden Eagles.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Marquette at Connecticut
Lauren Van Kleunen hit big shots all day for Marquette.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

ah, dip

The 2020-21 Marquette women’s basketball season came to an end on Sunday afternoon, as the #10 seeded Golden Eagles took a 70-63 to #7 seed Virginia Tech in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. Marquette wraps up the season with a record of 19-7 after going 14-4 in Big East play.

There are two notable sections of this game that explain what happened across the length of 40 minutes. With 1:55 left in the first half, MU’s Jordan King hit a free throw to pull Marquette within four of the Hokies, 25-21. This is fine. What is not fine what happened the rest of the way in the half. VT’s Elizabeth Kitley scored, Selena Lott committed an offensive foul, Azana Baines scored for the Hokies, Lauren Van Kleunen committed a turnover with four seconds left, and Georgia Amoore buried a buzzer beater three to put her team up 32-21 at the break.

7-0 run in 65 seconds.

No joke, the game kind of was decided right there. Marquette never got closer than seven in the third quarter and headed into the fourth quarter down nine, 48-39. Virginia Tech scored eight of the first 10 points of the final 10 minutes to take a 15 point lead, their biggest of the game so far. Definitely trending towards over with 7:32 to go.

Megan Duffy made an interesting call down the stretch though. With the lead wandering around in the low double digits, Marquette’s head coach had her charges turn up the pressure on the Hokies as time evaporated on the Golden Eagles. As they ratcheted that up, they started fouling to send the Hokies to the line...with three minutes left in the game.

It wasn’t helping. It was 60-49 when MU committed the first foul, and soon it was a 15 point lead, 64-49, with 2:03 to go. I respect using the clock, but the plan was failing.

And then Selena Lott hit a three.

And then Georgia Amoore coughed it up and Chloe Marotta got a layup.

And then Aisha Sheppard split a pair of free throws and Lauren Van Kleunen hit a three.... and it was a six point game with 1:05 to play.

Uh, this isn’t over.

And then Van Kleunen took it away from Kitley and then drained a three on the other end. 66-63, 39 seconds left. VERY MUCH NOT OVER. Marquette was able to play the next possession straight up, and they forced a late bad shot from Kitley..... but the offensive rebound bounced to an open spot on the floor, and the Hokies vacuumed it up.

And that was that.

For those of you who go back far enough, this was very much like the Marquette men’s basketball NCAA tournament game against Davidson where the Golden Eagles couldn’t hit anything from long range all game long until it very much absolutely mattered that they never missed again. The only difference is that Virginia Tech didn’t throw it away to hand Marquette a chance to win here.

Van Kleunen was outstanding for Marquette, hitting jumper after jumper all game long to finish with 18 points and six rebounds. Selena Lott was kept quiet in terms of shot attempts, but she went 7-for-10 from the field and wrapped up with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Camryn Taylor was the third Golden Eagle in double digits, getting 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Taylor would eventually foul out after playing just 23 minutes. Can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she didn’t have to head to the bench halfway through the first quarter with two fouls.

This would normally be the part of the show where I say thank you to Marquette’s seniors, but we can’t, not yet. Selena Lott and Lauren Van Kleunen have been granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA’s blanket COVID policy, so they can return next year if they want. Megan Duffy has said in the past that she would be happy to have both women return for another season if they want to return, so we have to wait and see what actually happens before we can declare their collegiate careers officially over.

Other than that, though, it’s the offseason, and we begin the wait until we see the Golden Eagles again in November.