There was a lot on the line for Megan Duffy and Marquette women’s basketball. The Golden Eagles were coming off a lackluster letdown win against Providence on Wednesday that no one had to feel good about as their followup to defeating #4 Connecticut, they were facing a St. John’s team that beat them in New York earlier this season, both Marquette and St. John’s are playing to stay on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble, and on top of that, both the Golden Eagles and the Red Storm came into the game at 10-6 in Big East action and very much in play to end up in sixth place in the league and forced to play in the opening day tripleheader of the conference tournament.
And Marquette just grabbed St. John’s in a headlock and put them to sleep, and right out of the gate, too. Your final from the McGuire Center: Marquette 61, St. John’s 38. The Golden Eagles move to 18-8 overall, 11-6 in the league, and they have won four straight games and seven of the last eight.
Well, almost right out of the gate. St. John’s won the opening tip and Jillian Archer scored on a putback of her own shot to start the game. Then Marquette went about their business, ripping off 10 straight points with Liza Karlen throwing in three buckets herself. That was a big deal for this game, as Karlen missed the contest in New York earlier this season. By the end of the first quarter, it was a 19-4 Marquette run.... and Marquette wasn’t even playing very well on the offensive end. The Golden Eagles connected on just 38% of their shots in the first 10 minutes, although they did go 2-for-5 from long range. It wasn’t even sloppiness on the part of St. John’s, as they committed just three turnovers in the quarter, although two were in the final 75 seconds.
The second quarter was mostly Marquette holding the Red Storm at arm’s length, and a bucket from Chloe Marotta made it 27-13 with 2:46. That 14 point margin was MU’s biggest of the game to that point.... and then Marquette lost the plot for the rest of the half. The Johnnies closed the half on an 8-2 run with three MU turnovers helping the visitors get within eight points, 29-21, at the break.
We don’t know what Megan Duffy’s message was to her team in the locker room at halftime, but after letting a 20 point lead completely evaporate on the road against Providence on Wednesday, I think we can probably guess some of the themes after that final stretch of the first half. Marquette’s start to the third quarter helps tell that tale, as the Golden Eagles came out of the locker room with a 14-1 run over the first five and a half minutes. A three from Rose Nkumu, marking the second straight possession where she scored, made it 43-22 Marquette with 4:42 to play in the period, and SJU head coach Joe Tartamella called timeout.
That run was, effectively, the end of the game. Yes, the Red Storm immediately cut the lead to 17, and yes, that’s where the lead was heading to the fourth quarter after the Johnnies pushed back on another 21 point Marquette advantage. But it was clear that Marquette knew what they had to do and that they had something to prove to themselves, too. An 8-3 Marquette burst over the first three minutes and change pushed the margin north of 20 points for good, and the Golden Eagles didn’t even allow a field goal in the fourth quarter until there was just 1:51 to play and Duffy had emptied her bench.
By the end of the game, St. John’s had shot just under 27% for the game and connected on just one of their eight long range attempts. Marquette dominated the Red Storm on the glass on both ends, holding them to just five offensive rebounds on all of their misses and then grabbing up over 41% of MU’s own misses on their end for a second chance. 15 offensive rebounds for Marquette, 14 second chance points. That kind of effort is going to win you a lot of ballgames.
We got to see some Marquette history in this one, as Chloe Marotta became MU’s 33rd 1,000 point scorer a little less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. It came on a give and go cut with a lob pass from Jordan King, and there has been an awful lot of those exact bucket from Marotta this year.
Marotta finished with a very Chloe Marotta line: 14 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, a block, and a steal. High scoring honors in the game go to Jordan King, who went for 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting, and she added six rebounds, six assists, and two steals to the book. Rose Nkumu was somehow quietly a boss here, racking up a game high seven assists to be a big reason why Marquette had 20 helpers on 26 buckets.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloHoops?
Up Next: The big time games don’t slow down for Marquette. Coming up on Wednesday, the Golden Eagles will welcome Creighton to the McGuire Center. Tipoff is set for 7pm Central time, and FloHoops will have the broadcast. The Bluejays are 13-5 in the Big East right now and one spot ahead of fourth place Marquette in the Big East standings. Creighton has won seven of their last eight games, with the lone loss coming as a two point defeat on the road against #6 Connecticut back on Wednesday night.