I’m not going to try and tell you that what happened at Alumni Hall in Rhode Island on Friday night was good. That’s a long stretch.
But what it was for certain was a Marquette women’s basketball victory, 57-51, over Providence. The Golden Eagles are now 19-9 on the year and 12-7 in Big East play. With one game left to play, their seeding in the conference tournament is still up in the air, although that has more to do with Seton Hall beating DePaul on Friday night than anything else.
As for the action in Rhode Island, it was... not pleasant. Facts are facts, right? The score was 24-24 after 20 minutes, and both teams had coughed up the ball on more than a quarter of their possessions. Marquette was shooting exactly 33.3% at halftime (bad), while Providence was sitting at a not much better 39%.
I want to say that the game turned in MU’s favor at the start of the third quarter. Karissa McLaughlin hit a three-pointer to open the scoring and Liza Karlen banged home a three of her own to put a cap on a 10-2 run by the Golden Eagles coming out of the locker room. 34-26 MU with 6:09 left to go in the period.
I want to say that turned it, but I can’t actually say that. If Marquette had scored at any point in the next five minutes, maybe we could have said that. They didn’t, well, almost not entirely, as Antwainette Walker’s and-1 came at the 1:16 mark, just short of five minutes. The bucket gave Marquette a four point lead, but she missed the freebie. MU traded free throws for buckets with the Friars for the rest of the quarter, and it was 40-36 with 10 minutes to go.
Jordan King pushed the lead to six on the first bucket of the fourth period, 2:30 into it, and a jumper from Karlen made it 47-42 with 4:54 to play. Nope, Providence still had things to say. Lauren Sampson drained a three, one of just three in the game for the Friars, and Janai Crooms got into the lane on their next possession to tie the game at 47. That was followed with a turnover by McLaughlin on the other end and Grace Efosa-Aguebor gave the home team the 49-47 lead on a layup with 3:41 to go.
Remember when I said I wanted to say that the 10-2 run turned the game? Yeah.
Here’s where it really turned: Marquette answered Efosa-Aguebor with an 8-0 run of their own that had four different Golden Eagles contribute. Jumper by Karlen, steal by Jordan King, free throws by Lauren Van Kleunen, jumper by King, steal by Van Kleunen, jumper by McLaughlin. 55-49, 91 seconds to play.
And then I don’t know what Providence did. They burned clock until Crooms got a shot blocked in the lane by Chloe Marotta, and after it went out of bounds, Kylee Sheppard scored in the paint to make it a four point game with 62 seconds left. Marquette brought the ball up, ran some offense, got a little congested, Duffy called timeout, and PC let another 10 seconds wander away before Alyssa Geary fouled Liza Karlen.
She sank both. Six point game, 35 seconds left. Nearly a minute disappeared from the game and Providence scored one bucket and they were still down six. I don’t get it. They weren’t trying to foul, merely force a turnover from Marquette.... but that let the clock evaporate on them.
Crooms missed a three after it took Providence nine seconds to get the shot off, Karlen hauled it in..... and Providence forgot that there was a razor thin margin left for them to win. Crooms fouled Jordan King with eight seconds to play, and it absolutely did not matter than she missed both. Even if it did, LVK hauled in the offensive rebound to end the game.
A weird ending for a Providence team that fought to the last second in Milwaukee, but it’s a win for Marquette, so I’m not going to complain loudly.
It wasn’t a pretty win. Marquette lost the effective field goal battle in this game, 42% to 34%. Just could not hit the broad side of a barn for 40 minutes. However, MU grabbed up 22 offensive rebounds in the game, giving them a second chance on 44% of their missed shots. This was not an efficient way to score — MU had just 12 total points on those 22 OR in the game — but it was enough. Also helping? Marquette won the points off turnovers battle in the game, because there were a lot of turnovers. 19 PC turnovers turned into 19 Marquette points, including six in the final quarter.
Liza Karlen was the star for Marquette in this one, finishing with a game high 24 points along with 10 rebounds for a double-double and one each in the assist, block, and steal columns. She wasn’t terrifically efficient with a 9-for-21 shooting night, but she was MU’s best option all night long. Karissa McLaughlin fought through swarming Providence defense to go for 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, with a 2-for-3 outing from behind the arc, and Jordan King ended up with 10 points as she just could not get anything to fall reliably all game long.
Chloe Marotta put together either a good bad game or a bad good game. 1-for-9 isn’t anything to write home about, especially when the 1 was on her final shot attempt of the game. But she also had a game high 13 rebounds, plus a game high five assists as well as three blocks and a steal. Here’s how big of a deal those assists were: Providence, as a team, in 40 minutes, had seven assists total.
Up Next: It’s time for the regular season finale! On Sunday, Marquette will be back at the McGuire Center for Senior Day. It’ll definitely be Senior Day for Karissa McLaughlin and Lauren Van Kleunen who are both on their COVID bonus years of eligibility, and it might be Senior Day for Chloe Marotta who is in her fourth year of competition at Marquette. Either way, it’ll be St. John’s lining up on the other side of the court fresh off their 93-38 loss to Connecticut on Friday night. A win over the Red Storm will clinch the #5 seed in the Big East tournament for Marquette.