A nine point lead with less than three minutes to go almost didn’t mean a thing for Marquette women’s basketball on Friday night at the McGuire Center, but by the time the horn went, that nine point lead was the exact right amount that the Golden Eagles needed. Your final: Marquette 61, Providence 59, in a game that neither team is going to look back upon with fond memories of how they shot the ball. Marquette is now 16-5 on the season with a 9-3 record in Big East action after recording their fifth straight win.
It took until the first bucket of the second quarter for either side to have more than a one possession lead, or honestly more than a two point lead. That one went to Antwainette Walker 25 seconds in, and she gave Marquette an 18-14 lead. That lasted less than two minutes before a three-pointer from PC’s Nariah Scott cut the margin to just one point, and eventually the Friars would knot the thing up at 23 each. Jordan King answered with one of her two three-pointers of the game and then scored again on MU’s next trip down the floor to push the lead to five. PC cut it back to one, as seemed to be the natural state for this game, but MU took advantage of Lauren Van Kleunen getting her defender to lose her balance in the lane and two freebies in the closing seconds of the half from Chloe Marotta to lead by five, 32-27, at halftime.
Six straight out of the locker room put Providence out in front and got MU head coach Megan Duffy to call timeout to shake some sense into her team, and that worked. Seven straight, including an and-1 by LVK, tilted it back towards the Golden Eagles and put them up by six while forcing a timeout from PC’s Jim Crowley.
This time, Marquette managed to solidify their hold on the game. Yes, Janai Crooms cut it back down to two points for a second there, but King scored on the other end. That was followed by a Rose Nkumu steal turning into a tough as nails and-1 by Karissa McLaughlin to put MU up seven. PC threw in a free throw as the last point of the quarter, so it was 46-40 with ten minutes to go.
No one scored at all for the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, which means MU was holding Providence without a field goal for over five and a half minutes along the way here. LVK got a bucket to go to break the ice in the final frame, and then after she got clattered with no call on the other end, she turned around and scored through contact for an and-1 and MU’s super senior was super fired up. MU up nine after the free throw, and for a second, it seemed like Marquette was starting to wrap this up with 7:19 to play.
But Providence kept firing. Six straight from the Friars made it a three point game with just over four to play. Still in doubt.... but another and-1 from LVK — still fired up! — and the other three-pointer of the game from King knocked this bad boy back to a nine point lead, 57-48, with 3:01 to go.
This is where the game got weird, or if not that, at least it remembered that it wanted to be a one possession game, if basketball games are capable of deciding their own destiny. Olivia Olsen got a basket to fall in the paint, and then then after MU couldn’t score on a second chance, a Liza Karlen foul sent Olsen to the line to split a pair. Six point game, 1:47 to play. Marquette chewed some clock, and went to McLaughlin, their lone true tested three-point threat for a bucket. She missed, but Kylee Sheppard didn’t on the other end after PC wasted 20 seconds getting the shot off. Three point game, under a minute left.
PC played it straight up, but eventually fouled Jordan King. She split, Crooms missed, they fouled McLaughlin with 24 seconds left. Sure. She split. Providence hurried the ball down the court for a bucket for Sheppard. Three point game, 59-56. Providence was out of time with less than 20 seconds left though, so MU just inbounded and waited for the foul. King this time, and again, she split. PC zoomed down the court again and Sheppard, a 37% long range shooter, knocked it down again.
60-59, 11 seconds left. Duffy called time, because that advances the ball and worst case scenario, PC is 70 feet from their own basket. Providence struggles to actually make contact with Marquette, they eventually get two hands on McLaughlin right in front of the MU bench literally right in front of Duffy..... and there’s no whistle. To be clear: Providence has to foul if they want the ball back, and it’s in the referees’ interest to go ahead and call the vaguest contact to just keep the players safe and avoid having to whistle a flagrant foul because someone hauls off and smashes someone to make sure they get the call. So she keeps on going to midcourt where they finally really make sure they foul McLaughlin. Good news for MU, sure, but weird and also bad.
She splits. Two point game, seven seconds to go. Providence needs literally any shot in the world to tie the game, and they get to inbound in front of their own bench after a timeout. Sheppard gets loose swinging around the left side, she drives and makes an awful pass into the paint while falling down. It’s behind Olsen and below her waist.... which is how Karissa McLaughlin got a hand on it to knock it away. She, officially, comes up with the ball on the ground under the rim, but it’s knocked away. Original call on the floor was PC ball, but as Megan Duffy was clearly shouting that she could see her players calling timeout while in possession of the ball, the refs went to review the call.
Overturned, off Providence. Timeout Marquette with less than a second to play, inbound, game over.
Marquette’s offense did not win this game, as the Golden Eagles finished up with an effective field goal percentage of just 36%. 33% from the field overall, an actually pretty good 3-for-9 from long range thanks to the pair from King, but just 18-for-54 on two-pointers. Blech. Thankfully, Marquette’s offensive rebounding machine was alive and well and MU grabbed up 44% of their misses for second chances.. Sure, they only turned 18 offensive rebounds into eight points, which is atrocious from an efficiency standpoint, but they needed all eight of those points. MU did an excellent job on the defensive glass as well, keeping PC to just 21% of their own missed shots, which was great news on a day when the Friars were badly outshooting the Golden Eagles, including a 5-for-10 outing from long range.
Lauren Van Kleunen finished with 19 points, including three points on free throws from and-1s in the game, along with eight rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal. Jordan King added a 16/5/3/2/2 night, and McLaughlin fought through a 1-for-4 from long range game to finish with 14 points to go with two rebounds and a game high seven assists. Liza Karlen seemed poised for a monster game when she had 10 rebounds at halftime, but she stayed stuck on that number to with six points and four assists.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloHoops?
Up Next: It’s a big time Big East showdown at the McGuire Center! Creighton will make their way north on I-94 after getting a big ol’ 77-68 victory at DePaul on Friday night to move into second place in the conference standings. A win by Marquette would push the Golden Eagles in front of the Bluejays in the standings by way of winning percentage as well as even out the season series after Creighton won in their building earlier this season. Tipoff is set for 1pm Central time for you locals who can get to the McGuire Center, and the game will be on FS1 for those of you who can not.