To paraphrase Coldplay, I didn’t think Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball’s visit to Illinois State on Sunday afternoon was going to be easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.
#19 Marquette fell behind 11-0, immediately ran off an 18-3 run to end the quarter including the first 14 all in a row, never led by more than six points in the entire game, never led at all in the third quarter, led by as many as five with 25 seconds to go, and finally, needed a last second ISU shot attempt to go awry to get a 64-62 victory.
NO FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS, PLEASE, EVERYONE GET ONTO THE BUS IN AN ORDERLY MANNER.
Marquette is now 9-0 on the year, continuing the best start in program history.
The 11-0 start for Illinois State was exactly as bad as it sounds. If you’re just missing shots, you can say “ah, well, we’re missing shots.” No, Marquette committed four of their 15 turnovers in the game in the first 3:30. Not great! When MU just stopped doing that nearly every time down the floor, they immediately got the offense into gear and scored 14 straight to tie the game at 11 with 3:17 left in the quarter on a second chance from Skylar Forbes and then a three-pointer from Kenzie Hare capped the run and gave Marquette their first lead. The margin was four, 18-14, at the end of the first, and Forbes scored to break the ice on the second quarter for a six point lead.
That was, as I mentioned, Marquette’s largest lead of the game. That wasn’t it, or rather, that wasn’t the only time. A three-pointer from Hare made it 26-20 with 7:30 to go before halftime, and that was the last time MU was up at least six. Thanks to a home team triple from Abbie Aalsma with under a minute left in the period, ISU closed out the quarter on a 14-8 burst to knot it all up at 34 at the break.
The burst turned into 18-8 when the Redbirds scored the first two buckets of the second half, but Marquette tied it back up at 38..... and then the offensive wheels fell off. MU didn’t score for nearly three straight minutes in the quarter as Hare didn’t even attempt a shot in the third after hitting three of her first five long range attempts in the game. I’m not a basketball coaching wizard here, but I understand the idea of “ride the hot hand” and on top of that, Hare’s been white hot to start the year. In any case, after falling behind by seven, MU was probably lucky to head to the fourth down just six, 47-41.
They immediately slashed the margin to just two points, but ISU answered, remembering all the things that they did right in this game up to this point, and went back up six on a triple by Aalsma. This is where, probably, Marquette won the game. Jordan King got to the rack, Frannie Hottinger scored in transition, and Liza Karlen fired in a “wait, is this the best shot right nowwwwwww yeah it’s in, Marquette leads!” three, and then scored again with 2:41 to go, Marquette by three.
Kenzie Hare got to the rack and drew a foul for the old fashioned three-point play with 1:13 to go. It was her first points since the second quarter, but hey: Marquette by five, let’s finish the final 73 seconds and be done with this mess of a game, right? ISU misses. Marquette misses. Less than 30 seconds left. Okay, no problem here, just close the door Maya Wong hit a three to make it a two point game.
Timeout, advance the ball, lots of fouls because MU wasn’t in the bonus, Hare drains two freebies, four point game, 12 seconds left, just don’t do anything colossally stupid like commit your fifth foul smashing into a three-point shooter after you land after contesting their shot.
Jordan King committed her fifth foul smashing into Wong after landing after contesting Wong’s long range attempt THAT THANKFULLY MISSED. She didn’t miss the freebies, one point game.
Timeout, advance the ball, get fouled.... KARLEN MISSED TWO FREE THROWS. Rebound on the second is called off ISU, confirmed by replay, do it again.... NKUMU SPLITS TWO FREE THROWS.
Marquette by two, six seconds left. Lots of time for ISU to run literally anything they want to get a look to tie or win.
They get what amounts to a free inbounds pass into the high post, TIME FREEZES, and then it’s kicked out to Kate Bullman..... who misses and ISU never gets another official chance.
Did MU deserve to win the game? Maybe not, but they played 40 minutes of basketball and the Golden Eagles had more points at the end of it, so put it in the books as a win, get on the bus back to Milwaukee, and do not accept questions about how and/or why.
Rebounding and turnovers won the game for Marquette as they pulled in 16 of their misses in the game for a 42% conversion rate, and yes, that missed Karlen freebie late that went off ISU counts as one of the 16. Illinois State only managed to bring in 34% of their misses, and while I’m sure head coach Megan Duffy doesn’t like that number, it counts as a win in the category for the Golden Eagles. In the turnover department, Marquette had 15 in the game but just 11 after that bad start, while the Redbirds coughed it up 19 times, or on 28% of their possessions. That’s how you win a game, especially when you only shoot 28% behind the arc.
Liza Karlen finished with 19 points to go with six rebounds, and she had four assists, too. Kenzie Hare added 14 points, and Jordan King had 13 on 6-for-14 shooting that was dragged down by 1-for-7 behind the arc. Frannie Hottinger tied with ISU knocking it out of bounds for the MU lead in rebounds with seven, while King had six assists to lead Marquette to 18 helpers in the game.
Up Next: Marquette will be back in Milwaukee for a mid-Finals Week adventure against #22 Creighton to start Big East play. The Bluejays are 7-1 on the year after winning 73-61 at Wyoming on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff at the McGuire Center is set for 7pm Central, and FloHoops will have the streaming broadcast.