Smash together the old trope of “it’s hard to win conference games on the road” with “Marquette’s offense has struggled over and over this season, especially early in games” with a little dash of “Butler nearly beat St. John’s last time out” and you get what happened in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.
Megan Duffy’s Golden Eagles found themselves needing to dig out of a 10 point hole early in the second quarter on the road against Butler, but thanks to a complete domination of the second half by super senior Chloe Marotta and a third chance putback by Emily La Chapell with time about to expire, Marquette gets to head back to Milwaukee with a 65-63 victory. MU is now 14-7 on the year and 7-5 in Big East play, but perhaps more importantly, they avoided taking a bad loss to a 7-15 Butler team to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
Let’s explain the first quarter which went to Butler 18-10 in a very easy fashion, shall we? Butler hit half their shots, including a layup by Tenley Dowell with less than a minute left for that 18th point, and Marquette shot 29% and went from 6:10 remaining to 1:27 remaining without scoring a single point much less hitting a field goal. That’s how you go from up one to down eight. Butler’s Jessica Carothers got into the lane quickly on their first possession of the second quarter, and ta-da, the Golden Eagles were down 10. Oh, and they missed two more shots on their first possession before Carrothers’ shot, so that’s 5-for-19 in the game to start off, and it turned into 5-for-20 on the next possession. 25% ain’t going to get it done, no matter what kind of defensive effort you put forward.
Butler’s lead would peak at 11 points, 27-16, with a pair of free throws from Caroline Strande at the 6:23 mark. We will have to wonder what would have happened in this game if the Golden Eagles did not close out the quarter strong. Not over the final six and change, no, just the final two minutes. MU outscored Butler 7-2 in the final 1:53, including the only three-pointer of the game on four tries from Kenzie Hare and a closing seconds bucket from little used freshman forward Charia Smith. Oh, yeah, I skimmed past Chloe Marotta picking up her second foul with 8:26 to go in the second and Kennedi Myles matching her late in the frame, too. Things were not going well for the Golden Eagles, and the fact that they were down four with 20 minutes left was actually kind of impressive.
Shooting update: Butler’s sitting on 50% from the field and 4-for-6 from long range at halftime. Marquette? 34% and 1-for-6 from long range. Yep, bad.
Marotta returned to the floor to start the third, and drew a shooting foul on Marquette’s second possession. She cashed both of them as she scored the first six points of the period for the Golden Eagles. Emily La Chapell drained her only three-pointer of the game at the 6:21 mark, and Marquette found themselves down only one, 39-38. That’s a 16-8 run by MU dating back to the final two minutes of the first half, and the game was clearly up for grabs now.
And then, it looked like it wasn’t.
Butler kicked off a 10-2 run featuring triples from Dowell and Jordan Meulemans and suddenly, less than three minutes later, the Bulldogs were back up nine, 49-40. Some freebies and a midrange J from Marotta carved the lead down to five, and Nia Clark, in her hometown of Indianapolis, pulled MU back within three to cap a quick 6-0 Marquette run. It was a five point margin heading into the fourth, but all credit to Chloe Marotta to dragging MU back into this game as she went 4-for-6 from the field and perfect on four tries from the stripe to get 12 points in the third.
Guess what happened.
Two free throws, a defensive rebound, and another J, boom, Marquette on a 6-0 run to open the quarter and suddenly up one, 52-51. Marotta, Marquette up 2. Jordan King, chipping in two of her 10 in the game, Marquette up 2. Marotta AGAIN in the paint, this time with the and-1, and Marquette went up three with 2:53 to play.
She snagged ANOTHER and-1 on MU’s next possession off an offensive rebound, but this time missed the freebie, just one of five misses from the line this season for her. MU by three, just over two minutes left. Guess where Marquette went with less than a minute to go to answer a Butler bucket? Yep, Chloe Marotta for her 25th point of the HALF and 27th of the game.
Butler’s hot shooting came back to bite Marquette one final time, and as the defense went to sleep and didn’t handle a screen right, Caroline Strande was wide open for her only three-pointer of the game. That pushed the Bulldogs to 7-for-13 from long range in the game and tied the whole deal up at 63 each.
But Marquette had 25 seconds to work with after a timeout to advance the ball. That was enough time for Jordan King to time her drive to the rack correctly to leave a chance for the Golden Eagles to get a rebound if they needed it.
They needed enough time for a rebound off Marotta’s putback, too. They had it, they got it, and La Chapell did the thing.
There was also still just enough time for Butler to run one baseline out of bounds play to get a shot at a winner or at least a tie. They got the play, probably partially because Marquette had no interest in accidentally fouling a three-point shooter on a shot that she was going to have to rush. Strande, who had just drained a three seconds earlier, got the shot off. It fell short without hitting the rim, and Marquette finally got to hear the horn and go home with the win.
27 points on 10-for-19 shooting, a game high there and also on her 14 rebounds, plus two assists. That’s an afternoon’s work for Chloe Marotta. Jordan King had 10 as mentioned, and she added eight assists as well. Emily La Chapell gets the high fives and chest bumps for the game winner, but believe it or not, it was just her second field goal of the game. She did add five rebounds, though.
How about a full two-plus minutes of highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: We get to see how much the feel of winning three straight games helps the Golden Eagles out. On Wednesday, they’ll be back out on the road, this time out in the the Philadelphia area for a contest with Villanova. The Wildcats were #21 in the AP poll last Monday, but had a nine game winning streak snapped with a 63-58 road loss to UConn on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff at the Finn is scheduled for 5:30pm Central time, and FS2 will have the broadcast.