Marquette Wire

Valentine scores career high as MU eludes in-state upset

Natisha+Hiedeman+scored+seven+points+in+the+fourth+quarter+of+Marquette%27s+victory+against+UW-Milwaukee.
Natisha Hiedeman scored seven points in the fourth quarter of Marquette's victory against UW-Milwaukee.

Natisha Hiedeman scored seven points in the fourth quarter of Marquette's victory against UW-Milwaukee.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Natisha Hiedeman scored seven points in the fourth quarter of Marquette's victory against UW-Milwaukee.

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The Marquette Golden Eagles dodged an upset against their crosstown rival, defeating UW-Milwaukee 85-74.

Sloppy play and three turnovers in the first two minutes bogged down the Golden Eagles, who were trailing the far inferior Panthers 7-5 at the 5:33 mark in the first quarter.

“I just think in the huddle we just looked at each other and said, ‘Okay, it’s time,’” head coach Carolyn Kieger said regarding the under-five media timeout. “We knew we were sluggish … we knew we were going to need to pick it up.”

The Blue and Gold quickly turned the corner, hitting their last nine shots of the quarter to own a 27-18 lead. Marquette would eventually expand that lead to as much as 14 early in the second quarter.

Just as it looked like Kieger’s squad was running away with their eighth non-conference win of the year, the offense hit another funk, going scoreless for almost four minutes.

No individual player dominated the team’s first half scoring, as McKayla Yentz, Natisha Hiedeman, Allazia Blockton, Amani Wilborn and Shantelle Valentine entered halftime with between 7 and 9 points each.

Just over two minutes into the second half, a 3-pointer by Yentz opened Marquette’s lead to a seemingly-insurmountable 17-point lead.

However, after shooting a video game-like 59 percent from the field in the first half, Marquette only shot 44 percent in the third quarter. As the Golden Eagles’ offense returned to more realistic numbers, the Panthers pounced on poor defense.

UWM’s balanced scoring attack quickly trimmed their deficit to six in the last minute of the quarter. A pair of Hiedeman free throws expanded Marquette’s lead to eight.

Marquette could not build on that momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as the team went over two minutes without scoring before Blockton snapped the streak with a layup.

After holding UWM to 35 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line, Marquette’s defense allowed a few key triples to cut the lead to 3 points.

“If we play with passion, not many teams in the country can beat us,” Kieger said. “When we get stagnant, that’s when we have issues.”

Kieger also pointed to the team’s poor defense as a reason why UWM snuck back into the game.

“When we play hard, it’s hard to get the ball across halfcourt and we just have to get that tenacity and that killer instinct for 40 minutes as opposed to just one quarter or a stretch of play.”

The team’s lackluster defense resulted in three Panthers scoring at least 15 points — Steph Kostowicz and Jenny Lindner with 17 and Bailey Farley with 15.

For Marquette, Hiedeman, the team’s second-highest scorer, stepped up with 7 points in the final quarter to help MU escape with a win.

The team finished with six players scoring double-digit point totals, the most since the team’s upset over Arizona State last month.

“Our energy is contagious,” Kieger said regarding the team’s spurt-centric scoring output. “When someone gets hot, it fires everybody else up.”

The team’s high-scoring output was the result of impressive passing. Marquette had 23 assists and only 12 turnovers.

“I’m really happy about that,” Kieger said. “Our chemistry’s great and unselfish.”

“When we’re on, we’re great and we can play with anybody,” Valentine said. “The assist factor is definitely what pushed us over the edge.”

The team’s contagious scoring included a career-high 12 points for Valentine.

“(Valentine’s) playing aggressive,” Kieger said. “Today was the first game all year where I think she looked like she wanted the ball and wanted it in her hands.”

“It’s a testament to her because she looks that way in practice,” Kieger continued. “She does a fantastic job in practice.”

“Being aggressive and being in the right spot … I was in the right spot and (my teammates) got me the ball,” Valentine said. “Those were great passes and I went up aggressively.”

At the same time, Valentine had only three rebounds.

“That’s something I can definitely improve on in the next game and keep working on in practice,” Valentine said. “I box out pretty hard and after that, I wait for someone else on my team to get the ball.”

Marquette’s victory comes two days after finals week, which Kieger attributed to some of the team’s challenges Sunday.

“(Finals week) is always the hardest week as a coach to keep them focused,” Kieger said. “It’s a lot to juggle.”

Sunday’s crosstown battle was Marquette’s third in-state game in two weeks.

“Any time you play a Wisconsin team, that’s big,” Kieger said. “The players know each other and grew up together, so it’s a different sense.”

“We were playing an in-state team, so we were all kind of fired up,” Valentine said. “We lost one to Green Bay this year, so we wanted to come in and finish it up with a win for sure.”

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