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Marquette Downs RV Gonzaga To Advance To Battle 4 Atlantis Championship


COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 23 Womens - Marquette at Butler
Chloe Marotta did the dang thing against Gonzaga on Sunday.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Can I interest you in Marquette women’s basketball’s best start in over a decade?

On Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after knocking off #3 Texas, the Golden Eagles were back in action against a Gonzaga team that was earning votes in last Monday’s AP top 25. Thanks to Chloe Marotta’s 18 point, 8 rebound performance amongst other things, Marquette came out ahead in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, knocking off the Bulldogs 70-66. This sets up a Monday date with UCLA in the championship game, not to mention gets MU to a 5-0 start to the season. This is just the fourth time in program history that MU has ever been 5-0, and it’s their best start to a season since 2010-11.


And it started out REALLY BADLY, with Gonzaga scoring the first seven points of the game in just a bit over 90 seconds. It’s fine, everything’s fine here, we’re all fine, how are you? MU bounced back with a 13-5 run to take a lead on a free throw by Liza Karlen with three minutes left in the opening period, but the Bulldogs got the last bucket, a layup from Yvonne Ejim, and it was 17-15 Zags after 10 minutes.

The first four points of the second quarter went Gonzaga’s way, and they eventually rebuilt that seven point lead. Kaylynne Truong knocked a three with 6:35 showing on the clock before halftime, and that made it 27-20 favoring the Bulldogs. Emily La Chapell answered with a three of her own — her only bucket in eight minutes of action, by the way, and that triggered an 8-0 Marquette run that gave the lead back to the Golden Eagles. That run turned into a 17-2 run, and all of a sudden, it was 37-29 Marquette with 1:50 to go in the half. The lead settled on seven at intermission as Chloe Marotta scored with three seconds to go, and I think we can strongly say that this is where the game turned in MU’s favor, or at the very least, it’s where they stopped chasing the game and starting going punch for punch with the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga came out of the locker room strong, immediately cutting the margin to just two points on a bucket from Brynna Maxwell, and the two sides just kept trading buckets back and forth for a while. Nia Clark got loose in transition to score in the paint, Marotta got a layup a little later on, and the lead was back to six, 3:16 left in the third. Gonzaga kept on coming, cutting the lead as small as one, Marquette pushed back, getting it back out to six with less than a minute to go thanks to a triple from Kenzie Hare. MU didn’t do themselves any favors after that, as La Chapell fouled Maxwell while shooting a three — she made all of her freebies — and then a last second turnover by Jordan King let Kaylynne Truong drain a triple from midcourt to pull the whole thing even at 54.

Thirty minutes gone, and effectively, the game was right back where it started.

Maxwell hit a three to break up a 56-all tie with 7:47 to play and put the Bulldogs in charge for a while, even after Liza Karlen scored the next bucket of the game to bring MU within one. Neither side could get anything to go for a few possessions, but Jordan King found Nia Clark in transition for a three with just over four minutes to play, and MU was up two, 61-59. Another defensive rebound from King on the next possession, and she scored it herself on the other end, Marquette by four.

Gonzaga wasn’t going away. Truong got to the line. Ejim got to the line. Tie game, 1:28 to go. Karlen got rejected by Ejim, and the ball went out of bounds.... and then this on the restart.

Perfect play design, perfect execution, cero miedo from Marotta to draw the contact from the foul from Truong playing centerfield underneath the rim. She popped in the and-1, and MU led 66-63 with 66 seconds to go. Eliza Hollingsworth drew a foul off Marotta on the other end, and then she left her second freebie very badly short, rebound to Rose Nkumu. Timeout, advance the ball, King gets fouled and splits a pair, MU by three, 40 seconds left.

Truong missed a triple badly, and King ended up fouling Maxwell on the ensuing inbound after Truong’s miss went off Marotta. She made both, but MU advanced it on the timeout again, inbounded, burned a ton of time because they could while up one, and eventually the Bulldogs fouled. Nkumu shot her two freebies so quickly it almost looked like she was nervous about them, but they were both pure. 69-66. One more miss by Maxwell from long distance, very badly, and a not great attempt for a putback by Ejim, and the Zags had to foul Jordan King. She hit the first, but that’s all she needed with two seconds to play.

Marotta tied with Truong and Maxwell for the game high in points, but all told, she had 18 points, 8 rebounds — four on each end — along with three assists and a steal. King did not have her shot working for her at 4-for-12 in the contest, but she did get to 13 points and added nine rebounds, four assists, and a steal to make up for it. Kenzie Hare matched her at 13 off the bench and dished four assists as well to tie for the team lead, while Karlen had 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.

A team effort, to be sure.

How about some highlights, courtesy of and FloSports?

Up Next: UCLA beat South Dakota State, 72-65, in the first round and then clobbered #11 Tennessee 80-63 in their semifinal contest on Sunday to get to the championship round to face the Golden Eagles. The Bruins are also 5-0 on the season now and were juuuuust barely outside the top 25 in last Monday’s AP poll. MU and UCLA will tip off at 11am Central time on ESPN on Monday, and officially, this means that no matter what happens in Monday’s new AP poll that comes out after tipoff, this Battle 4 Atlantis championship game will be between two unranked teams even though the field included three of the top 11 teams in the country. Go figure!