Marquette stuns Seton Hall on senior day

Photo+by+Valeria+Cardenas%2Fvaleria.cardenas%40marquette.edu

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

The Marquette Golden Eagles pulled a senior day shocker to cap off the weekend, beating the No. 24 and Big East-leading Seton Hall Pirates 73-70 Sunday. The upset came two days after Marquette dropped the first game of the weekend to the St. John’s Red Storm, 64-52. Marquette’s record now sits at 7-19 overall and 3-12 in the conference.

The highlight of the weekend for the Golden Eagles was undoubtedly their win over Seton Hall, who had just wrested control of the Big East from DePaul two days earlier. Marquette gained a 20-18 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half and did not surrender the lead for the rest of the game.

“First of all, I’m just so thrilled for our seniors,” said coach Carolyn Kieger. “That was just a lot of fun for them. They just had tears and smiles on their faces that I haven’t seen all year.”

Coach Kieger’s squad blew the game open near the end of the first half, going on a 13-4 run that spanned the last three-and-a-half minutes before the break. Marquette led 47-33 when the first half buzzer sounded. The team’s 47 points were the most they have scored in a half all year.

Seton Hall, not content to go down without a skirmish, mounted a vicious comeback in the second half. The Pirates were led by shooting guard Daisha Simmons, who scored 22 of her 32 points after intermission. Her tip-in with 1:41 to go drew the Pirates to within two points of Marquette.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Kieger said. “We just had to stay composed.”

The Pirates’ best chance to regain control of the game came just more than a minute later while they were down 69-66. Forward Janee Johnson took a wide open 3-pointer from the left wing, but it hit the iron and senior Chelsie Butler grabbed the rebound. Tia Elbert made two free throws put Marquette up 71-66.

After a quick layup from Ka’Deirdre Simmons to cut Marquette’s lead to three with 4.7 seconds left, senior guard Arlesia Morse fumbled away the inbounds pass, which was recovered by Seton Hall’s Tabatha Richardson-Smith. However, her last-ditch 3-point attempt came after the final buzzer, sealing the 73-70 upset win for Marquette.

“That’s the most fun I’ve had in awhile, no question,” Kieger said.

Morse proved to be the difference in her final home game as a Golden Eagle. She went only 4-for-12 from the field but still managed to score 22 points, mainly on the strength of her 13-for-14 effort at the free throw line. The best free throw shooter in the nation managed to hit 10 straight foul shots to push her streak of made free throws to 51 before finally missing one with 1:19 left in the game.

The Seton Hall game unfolded quite differently than the St. John’s loss two days earlier. Marquette actually led the Red Storm by two at the break, but was then blitzed by a 16-0 St. John’s run. Aliyyah Handford netted a team-leading 20 points for the Red Storm. Marquette was also outrebounded by a nearly two-to-one margin.

“We showed every single one of (the missed rebounds) on film after the game,” Kieger said. “I got sick of seeing it and they certainly got sick of watching it.”

The film session must have worked, as the Golden Eagles outrebounded the Big East’s best team 53-44. Eight of the nine players that saw significant court time for Marquette came away with at least four rebounds.

The weekend also marked the end of Marquette’s home slate. The Golden Eagles will travel to Providence next Friday, Creighton next Sunday and DePaul on Mar. 1 to finish out their regular season.