Well, would you look at that.
Powered by a game high and new career high 25 points from Jordan King, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles knocked off #3 Texas in the first round of Battle 4 Atlantis on Saturday afternoon, with a final score of 68-61. Marquette is now a perfect 4-0 on the season after recording the program’s first ever win over a top three ranked team. MU’s previous best ever win was over #4 ranked Notre Dame in January 2009.
The Longhorns scored first, and after a couple of turnovers, MU pulled even on a bucket from Liza Karlen. Rose Nkumu came up with a steal, and after some offensive rebounds, Karlen scored again to make it 4-2..... and believe it or not, Marquette would never relinquish the lead. A 6-0 run late in the quarter pushed the margin as high as eight, 17-9, on a free throw from Julianna Okosun, and MU was up 20-14 on the #3 ranked Longhorns after 10 minutes. The sense of it was that Megan Duffy had her team 100% prepared for what they wanted to do to attack the Longhorns and defend them as well.... and Texas just was not ready to get punched in the face at all.
Nia Clark nudged the margin up to nine points with a bucket in the paint and then a split pair of free throws with 6:03 left in the second quarter. Clark’s FG with 6:25 to go would be MU’s last field goal of the quarter until a three-pointer from King with less than 30 seconds to go before the half. The Golden Eagles subsisted on defense and some scattered free throws from Okosun to keep their lead and it never dipped below three points. UT’s Sonya Morris — yes, the same one that played for DePaul last year — answered King’s triple, and it was 31-28 at the half. Little bit of a slowdown from the first quarter, but when you’re out in front the whole time, you’ll take it.
Megan Duffy stuck a quarter in Nkumu in the locker room, and y’know, in retrospect, this might have won the game for Marquette. Karlen steal, Nkumu layup. Nkumu steal, Nkumu layup. Rinse, repeat. 6-0 Nkumu out of the locker room, and the Golden Eagles were up nine. King made it 10 for the first time shortly thereafter, and Clark tacked on a triple for a 13 point margin, 42-29, with 6:21 to play in the frame.
And then the power went out again for the Golden Eagles. This time they wouldn’t score again the rest of the way as the Longhorns went on a 12-0 run to close out the quarter. This seems very bad, and at the time it was, but you already know that MU never lost the lead. 14 seconds into the fourth, King cashed a triple, one of three in the game for her, and after an offensive foul from Shay Holle, King added on two more in the paint. Texas cut the lead to just one again, and King just kept on going. She got on the inside again for two, and then got to the line for two more. MU by five, make it seven after some freebies from Karlen, and then King manufactured a possession with a steal and a bucket. Marquette by nine, 5:45 to go.
Chloe Marotta stepped up with four straight free throws to get the lead back to 10 with 4:22 to go. Texas cut it to five, 59-54. Marquette just kept finding answers. Rose Nkumu again. More free throws from King with less than two minutes to go for an eight point lead. They had the Longhorns roped, they just needed to get to the horn.
They almost didn’t get there. Morris hit a three, Marotta missed on the other end, and Aaliyah Moore cut the margin to three points with less than a minute to go. All Marquette has to do is burn clock and get a quality shot. Nope, Deyona Gaston picks Nkumu’s pocket and heads to the rack in transition to cut it to on...... NOPE SHE FLUBBED THE LAYUP. Karlen came up with it, got it to King, foul, two sink in, Marquette by 5, 21 seconds to go. A miss by Morris and a rebound by — surprise — Nkumu, and that was that.
I don’t know if you can tell, but it was not a pretty win for Marquette. Scoring just 48 points after putting up 20 in the first quarter tells that story fairly easily. They shot just 36% from the field, and thanks to a 4-for-13 outing from behind the stripe, they had an effective field goal percentage of just 39.7%. They turned it over 23 times, including a team worst seven by King alone, and that accounted for 30% of MU’s possessions in the entire game.
I’ll say it a different way: Three out of every 10 Marquette possessions were wasted without a shot going up, and they won anyway. It helps that the Longhorns shot the ball even worse — 31.4% overall, 35% eFG% — and turned it over 26% of the time as well. Marquette’s 34 free throws did a lot of heavy lifting as well, as the Golden Eagles made 22 of them. That’s nearly a third of their points, even if they did only hit 65% of their attempts.
King had a block and three steals to go with her 8-for-18 shooting night, while Rose Nkumu was the only other Golden Eagle in double digits. She had a career best 16 on 6-for-9 shooting and had five rebounds, an assist, and four steals to her credit. Liza Karlen missed a double-double just barely on eight points and a game high 11 rebounds, but when you add three assist and two steals as the starting center, things are still going pretty well.
Wanna watch some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: Marquette will play again on Sunday, less than 24 hours since their game against Texas tipped off. Gonzaga needed overtime to do it, but they still beat #6 Louisville in the other game on MU’s side of the bracket, so it’ll be Marquette vs (future Big East rival?) Gonzaga in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, with tipoff on FloSports set for 1:30pm Central time on Sunday. The winner of that one will get the winner of #11 Tennessee and UCLA on Monday.