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Marquette Can’t Get Past Villanova

An early funk led to a close game all the way through, but the Wildcats held the advantage at the end.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament - Creighton v Marquette
Jordan King led Marquette in scoring on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Wildcats.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A hot start on CBS Sports Network on Sunday didn’t last for Marquette women’s basketball, and by the end, it was Villanova taking the 58-55 victory over the Golden Eagles at the McGuire Center. MU is now 11-5 overall and just 4-3 in the Big East after this 2-1 week in the league, while the Wildcats move to 9-6 overall and 3-3 in the league.

It looked like Marquette was getting ready to jump all over Villanova early in the first quarter. Buckets from Chloe Marotta, Lauren Van Kleunen, and Jordan King gave the Golden Eagles a 6-0 run that left them up 13-5 at the media timeout in the period. But one of those lulls that head coach Megan Duffy has been wary of over the last several games reared its head after that. The Wildcats closed the quarter on a 9-2 run that trimmed MU’s lead to just one after 10 minutes, and Lior Garzon’s bucket to open the second tipped the margin in VU’s favor, 16-15.

Marquette got it going again early in the second, and a three-pointer from Karissa McLaughlin punched MU’s lead back to six, 22-26, with 7:47 to go. Okay, lull over? Maybe, maybe not. The Wildcats scored the next six to knot the game at 22 with 4:52 to go in the half, and things stayed mostly even-ish from there. A bucket from Rose Nkumu made for the last points of the half, and that gave Marquette a 31-30 lead at intermission.

Important halftime note: Marquette had one offensive rebound in the entire first half. It came on the first possession of the game when VU’s Lucy Olsen blocked a Van Kleunen shot out of bounds. Why is this notable and important? Because the Golden Eagles haul in nearly 40% of their own misses on a regular basis according to Her Hoop Stats, and that ranks them in the top 20 in the country. 13 missed shots in the first half..... one offensive rebound.

The third quarter is where the duel officially began, as neither side managed a lead bigger than the three point margin King gave Marquette with 3:44 to go. Heading to the fourth, it was 44-43 Villanova, and the Golden Eagles had managed just one field goal since King’s bucket.

The game officially turned in Villanova’s direction as the fourth quarter got started. Garzon scored first to make it a four point game, and Brooke Mullin answered two LVK free throws with a three-pointer, one of just six on 24 attempts by the Wildcats. 49-44, and the next five points went VU’s way as well. All five came from Maddy Siegrist as she cashed a three and then converted a feed from Mullin to make it 54-44 with 5:51 to go. Remember that King field goal that put MU up three? Yeah, that’s still Marquette’s most recent field goal at this point.

Somehow, this turned into a game at the end. Marquette scored the next eight straight as Villanova fell in love with hucking three-pointers while their lead evaporated. Danyel Middleton scored with exactly two minutes left, and it was a two point game, 54-52. Liza Karlen drew a foul and split her freebies to make it a one point game with under a minute to go.

Marquette needed a stop. Villanova had Maddie Siegrist. The top scorer in the conference came through in the clutch to give her team a three-point lead. MU went in the only reliable direction they can, Karissa McLaughlin, and she missed. They fouled, Garzon split some free throws, MU scored quickly, fouled, and Siegrist split a pair.

Somehow, this made it Marquette’s ball with 10 seconds left, down three.

They got a look from King, but it didn’t go down, and that was that.

They didn’t lose because they missed shots at the end, they lost because they let a lead slip away from them waaaaay back 30 minutes earlier. Oh, and because Villanova took away the offensive rebounding. Remember that from the first half? Marquette finished the game with just three total offensive rebounds. That’s just 11% in the game, way way way off their season average of 39%. When you don’t have reliable three-point shooting, you have to engineer points, and usually that works for Marquette with the putbacks and second chances. Here, not so much, and they just didn’t have the firepower to overcome VU’s fourth quarter run.

Siegrist led the Wildcats with 19, but the most fascinating stat line for the visitors belongs to Lior Garzon. She just missed a triple-double, but one that Marquette would have liked. 14 points, 11 rebounds....... and nine turnovers.

King finished with 14 points on a day where she shot 7-for-11 from the field before that final desperation three-pointer. She added six rebounds to lead the team there, and had three assists, too. Van Kleunen was MU’s only other double digit scorer, but it took her 14 shots to get to 11 points. LVK added six assists to lead the team in a weird reversal of roles with King.

How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of CBS Sports Network and GoMarquette.com?

Up Next: The Golden Eagles will be out on the road next weekend for their next two games. They’ll be in Cincinnati on Friday night to face Xavier (6-9, 1-5 Big East) before heading to Indianapolis on Sunday for a contest with Butler (1-12, 0-4 Big East). It’ll be the first two times Marquette faces a league opponent for the second time this season.