I’ve thought about it, after the Marquette/Illinois women’s basketball game ended, through a brief stop at the grocery story, and as the MU volleyball team beat Villanova, and I think the right phrasing here is that Megan Duffy’s Golden Eagles shocked the #23 ranked Illini.
It’s not that beating them 71-67 at the McGuire Center was a shocking result. If Marquette thinks of themselves as an NCAA tournament tea — as the team picked to finish third behind UConn and Creighton in the Big East they should — they have to be able to beat teams that are fringe top 25 cases like the Illini are, even if they were actually in the preseason top 25.
The actual process of the win was a shock to the Illini’s system. Through the whole first quarter, no one led by more than three points in either direction, and Illinois was up 16-14 after 10 minutes. Adalia McKenzie scored to break the ice on the second, that’s when the shock started:
A putback by Liza Karlen kicked off a 17-2 Marquette run that had the Golden Eagles going from down four to up 11. All of this happened in a span of less than four minutes of game action. Illinois responded — that’s why they’re #23, after all — with a 10-2 run of their own, and we were back into the clearly contested zone, but now it was the visitors chasing the home team on the scoreboard.
A bucket at the horn from Illinois’ Camille Hobby made it a three point Marquette lead, 37-34, at intermission. That was the last positive note from the Illini for a while as MU snapped off a 13-5 run to start off the third quarter, and not even really start off but burn off as the clock read 4:09 to go in the period when Liza Karlen scored to make it 50-39. The Golden Eagles weren’t able to hold onto that margin for long though, but running it out to 11 did help them stay out in front, 56-50, as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
Illinois slashed that margin in half as soon as the quarter started with Hobby cashing in an and-1. A three-pointer from Genesis Bryant trimmed the lead to just two points. Bryant answered a Frannie Hottinger bucket with another three, and now Marquette was up just one, 62-61, with seven minutes to go.
The Illini didn’t score for over three and a half minutes. Marquette only managed one bucket in there so they didn’t get a chance to blow the game open. Hobby kept answering whatever scoring the Golden Eagles threw at the Illini, and the two sides just kept going back and forth. Up three with 90 seconds to play, Marquette called a timeout to try to make a difference, but they couldn’t get anything resembling an interesting look. Seemed bad at the time, but Bryant couldn’t even hit rim on a three on the other end, and suddenly there was under a minute to go. Hottinger got whistled for an offensive foul and gave the Illini some life.
They went to Hobby for a two, but now there was only 18 seconds left, and they had to foul to extend the game. Jordan King went 3-for-4 from the line, Bryant missed another three to move her to 2-for-7 on the day, and that was that.
The result was close, but it was in MU’s favor all because Marquette shocked the Illini with that first big run.
Liza Karlen had a game high 22 points on 11-for-16 shooting that somehow did not feel like she had that great of a game. Maybe that’s just the two long range misses lingering in my mind, or maybe just the six turnovers. She was one of four Golden Eagles who scored in double digits. Frannie Hottinger was one of them, getting 11 points to go with her team high eight rebounds. Kenzie Hare of all people led Marquette in assists, finishing the day with four points, three rebounds, and a steal to go with her seven helpers.
One thing to watch: Marquette is not going to be able to survive on a total of 22 minutes from the bench all season long. Getting Claire Kaifes back from a groin injury might help that, but eight minutes from Skylar Forbes and 12 from Lee Volker isn’t good enough, whether that’s a coaching decision to limit them or their performance causing the coaches to keep them on the bench.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: This is a real thing that’s happening. Marquette’s next game is on the road against IUPUI. That will be on Wednesday night, but between now and then, the Jaguars will visit Ohio State on Sunday afternoon. The team picked to finish ninth in the Horizon League this season opened up the year with a 77-72 home win over Eastern Illinois back on Monday night.