Holy shit, they did it.
Powered by 19 points and nine rebounds from super senior Chloe Marotta, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles have knocked off #4 ranked Connecticut, picking up a 59-52 victory at the McGuire Center on Wednesday night. It is Marquette’s first ever victory over the Huskies in 17 tries, it is UConn’s first loss of conference play this season, and paired with their 81-77 home loss to South Carolina on Sunday, it is Connecticut’s first set of back-to-back losses since March of 1993.
That is not a typo. 74 straight wins by UConn following a loss over the past 30 years. According to the SNY television broadcast, the Huskies had an average margin of victory of over 32 points in those 74 wins. Not this time. Not this game. Not in Marquette’s house.
And if we’re being honest, it sure as hell did not look like it was going to go this way. UConn opened up a 6-0 lead on the Golden Eagles out of the gate as Marquette missed their first seven shots of the game and mixed in a turnover there to boot. We have seen this movie before during this season, MU’s offense is just one half-inch off to start the game, they fall behind, they never get it together.
And then they got it together.
Rose Nkumu got the Golden Eagles on the board with 6:38 left in the first, and then a Jordan King scored ten straight all by herself to make it 12-8 Marquette at the 2:17 mark. It was a 16-4 run to end the quarter for the Golden Eagles, and then they stacked up the first seven points of the second quarter. 23-4 Marquette run since that 6-0 start for the visiting Huskies, Marquette by 13, 23-10.
That was the highwater mark of the game for the Golden Eagles, but no shade there at all. It’s hard to get a lead when you’re down 6-0 to the #4 team in the country, getting a 13 point lead is a hell of an accomplishment. So of course UConn finally got the car out of neutral and put up a 12-2 run to cut the margin to just three with less than 90 seconds left in the half. Chloe Marotta knocked in two freebies, and it was MU by five at the break.
To be clear about this: It was 27-22. This was not a firewagon basketball game. Both teams were south of 0.80 points per trip down the floor in the first half.
The third instance of “ah, well, we had some fun” in this game was when Aaliyah Edwards got into the lane and scored to cap a 7-0 UConn run that tied the game at 31 in the third quarter. Real strong “okay, we woke up #4 in the country, that’s how it goes sometimes...” and then Chloe Marotta answered with a three on the other end. She tacked on another bucket the next trip down the floor after a Dorka Juhasz turnover, and ZIP, MU was back up five with 5:03 to play in the quarter. The Huskies would get it back to a one point game as the quarter wound down.... but that’s as close as they got, even after a bouncy offensive rebounded landed with them in the waning moments of the frame, it ultimately turned into a Marotta steal and one of UConn’s 19 turnovers in the game.
Marquette by one, 39-38, with 10 minutes to play.
Emily La Chapell scored to put a button on a horrific first possession of the fourth quarter for Marquette, I’m still not sure how they maintained control of the ball, but the freshman got down the lane to make it a three-point game. UConn kept knocking, keeping it within a possession, but Marquette kept coming up with a stop when they needed it or a bucket when they needed it. You know the cliche of “we need to make winning plays” or however that goes in a given circumstance? That was Marquette the entire fourth quarter. One thing after another, and a lot of it with Jordan King on the bench with four fouls.
We got to the fourth quarter media timeout.... and it was 47-41 Marquette. They could reach out and touch the door, time to grab it and slam it shut. In a perfect explanation of this game and what I was just talking about with that “winning plays” thing, the SNY play-by-play man (sorry, I didn’t look up his name, but he was pretty good at calling Marquette’s bid for history given that he’s being paid to call UConn games, not as a neutral party) said “let’s see what the Huskies have drawn up after the timeout” and right as he finished saying it, Nika Muhl threw a pass directly to Rose Nkumu in the lane for a turnover.
Jordan King scored to make it a seven point game, Aubrey Griffin answered, three minutes left.
Two minutes left.
Liza Karlen made a steal, Marotta scored, Marquette by seven, 1:35 left, Juhasz answered with a triple, 51-47, 1:20 left.
This was clearly not over, y’know? It really felt like that. It’s #4 UConn, they’ve got something left, right?
Marquette broke the UConn pressure defense on the inbound after Juhasz’ three, La Chapell drains the free throw with ease off a neat little bounce from Karlen to screen her open, six point game, 75 seconds left.
Another steal by Karlen, she had four in the game, under a minute left, and the Huskies were forced to start fouling because Marquette wasn’t even in the bonus yet.
UConn had shots to pull this off. They had decent looks, maybe because Marquette was smart enough to avoid fouls with a lead, but still. The shots just wouldn’t foul. MU’s free throws kept going down on the other end. Eight point lead. Another steal, this one from King. 10 point lead. Finally UConn’s shots started hitting.... but there was less than 15 seconds left. Time had disappeared on them. Marquette had made enough stops. Game over. They beat a top five team for the second time in program history and the second time this season.
Marotta was named Player of the Game by SNY, which was awesome, and she added three assists, a steal, and two blocks to her points and rebounds. Karlen had 10 grabs off the glass to go with her steals and four points. Jordan King assembled 18 points in 32 minutes around her four fouls. Rose Nkumu had five points, a rebounds, three assists, and a game high five steals. Head coach Megan Duffy played just seven women all game, but all of them made an impact, even Kennedi Myles, who played just three minutes but still chipped in a steal.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and SNY?
Up Next: Some well deserved rest. Marquette won’t be in action until next week Wednesday when they reconvene for a road trip to Rhode Island to visit Providence. Tipoff is set for 6pm Central on February 15th, and FloSports will have the broadcast for that one. The Friars are 13-12 on the year at the moment and 4-10 in Big East action with losses in their last two contests. They’ll host Butler on Saturday before the Golden Eagles come to town.