12-0 to start the year.
Let’s review our preview for this game and see if we can figure out where Marquette went wrong here.
I noted that Villanova doesn’t turn the ball over that much so MU isn’t going to be able to get easy possessions that way. NOPE, Wildcats coughed it up five times in the first half and another eight times in the second half for a total of 13, and that comes out to a turnover on 20% of their possessions.
I noted that Villanova is not a good defensive rebounding team. NOPE, not the problem here as Marquette pulled in 10 offensive rebounds, 33% of their possible grabs. That’s just barely under their season average, so while MU didn’t take advantage of Nova’s weakness here, it also wasn’t a situation where the Wildcats suddenly had a great game in that department.
I noted that Nova runs everything through Lucy Olsen, and disrupting her night disrupts their entire system. Olsen scored 37 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including 2-for-3 from long range, and she added four rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Yeah, I think I found the problem.
Is it hard to guard a player with Lucy Olsen’s abilities? Sure, but based on what we saw in this one, Marquette either A) didn’t have an adequate game plan to slow down Options #1, #2, and #3 in Villanova’s repertoire or B) they don’t have the players to execute an adequate game plan to slow Olsen down. I’m not even talking about shutting her down here. If Marquette holds Olsen to 30 points on 9-for-16 shooting, the Golden Eagles win. If they hold her to 20, a very respectable game for anyone, Marquette wins going away.
Instead, Marquette took a game where they started with a 7-0 opening and led for 36:44, and found a way to lose.
We can fast forward all the way to the fourth quarter here. The fact of the matter is that after Marquette went up 7-0 — their largest lead of the game, by the way — Villanova ended up tying it at 16 late in the first quarter and the whole things was nip and tuck the rest of the way. Villanova never led, but Marquette couldn’t get the lead larger than five points for 21 straight minutes.
With the Wildcats knocking at the door and two free throws from Olsen making it a 57-56 MU lead with 6:34 left in the fourth, Marquette appeared to lock the thing down. Liza Karlen hauled in a miss, and a few seconds later, she put it up and in. The two sides traded turnovers, and Skylar Forbes went baseline to drive for a bucket. Karlen drew a shooting foul and made both freebies.
63-56 on a 6-0 run, matching the largest lead of the game, 3:54 to go.
Marquette would not score again.
Right before the run started, Rose Nkumu and Jordan King picked up their fourth fouls. The run went fine, but after that, it looked like both women were deathly afraid of picking up their fifth fouls, and that hesitancy spread like wildfire throughout the five players on the floor. All of a sudden, Marquette had no idea what to do to put the ball in the net as Villanova gained confidence each and every trip down the floor.
Layup by Olsen. Two free throws by Olsen. Layup by Olsen, Villanova leads.
Jordan King drives to the middle, Christina Dalce blocks her, Liza Karlen’s second chance bounces free. Olsen hits two free throws after Karlen fouls her to extend the game.
Marquette has 12 seconds to tie the game.
The first attempt at inbounding goes poorly, head coach Megan Duffy calls timeout, burning her options of scoring a quick two, fouling, and calling timeout to advance after the free throws. Marquette has to shoot the three.
Dalce blocks not one, but TWO long range attempts, but both go out of bounds, leaving MU with one final chance. Karlen’s try bounces away, Wildcats win.
Awful. Avoidable and awful, the worst possible option.
Up Next: Oh, yeah, that’s right, I said Wednesday night was a trap game because Marquette is off til next week Tuesday when they face Connecticut at the McGuire Center. Super. Tipoff on that one is set for 6pm Central and SNY will have the broadcast. UConn won their 10th straight game back on Saturday, beating St. John’s 92-49 at UBS Arena on Long Island. As I type this, they’re up 51-33 on Seton Hall at halftime after the Pirates led 23-21 at the end of the first quarter. Uh huh. The Huskies will host DePaul on Saturday before coming to Milwaukee.