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Women’s basketball dominates in blowout of Northern Iowa

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Women’s basketball dominates in blowout of Northern Iowa

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Marquette women’s basketball took down the University of Northern Iowa Panthers 102-61 Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament Sunday afternoon.

It was utter domination from start to finish for the Golden Eagles.

“We brought the juice today,” freshman forward Chloe Marotta said. “We came out and went strong. Our starting five did really well (and so did) a lot of bench players.”

In the first quarter, Marquette outscored UNI 30-12 and had six steals. Only two Panther players scored in the first quarter.

“Our defense makes our offense better,” head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “We have the athleticism (and) we have the heart to be able to get tips and deflections.”

At the half, senior guard Allazia Blockton was already in double-digits with 12 points. Fellow seniors Amani Wilborn and Erika Davenport put up nine and seven points, respectively.

The second half was much of the same, with the Golden Eagles outscoring the Panthers 30-16 in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, Marquette’s depth really showed. Every player available for the matchup made an appearance, which allowed the starters to rest before the WNIT semifinals.

“Our depth is going to make us a better team this year (and) make us a different team,” Kieger said. “You’re going to see us playing at an even faster pace because we have the depth to do so. When you have a deep bench that’s being productive as they are … that’s pretty efficient.”

All five starters and Marotta had double-digit point totals. Blockton led the team with 22 points. Senior guard Natisha Hiedeman put up a double-double with 10 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

Marotta hardly looked like a first-year player, contributing 11 points off the bench for her first double-digit scoring performance in her Division I career.

“My teammates did a great job of giving me the ball in the post,” Marotta said. “I definitely like trying to post up a lot down there. (I) had some hard runs to the basket, and (the shots) fell today.”

Marquette had a 43-32 rebounding advantage despite playing against a forward-heavy UNI roster. Marotta contributed a team-high eight boards.

“I like to say rebounding is kind of my thing,” Marotta said. “I look for the boards on offense and defense. Coming off the bench, I want to make sure I’m doing that for my team and pulling those down.”

Kieger was especially proud of her squad’s defensive performance. The Golden Eagles forced 25 total turnovers, including a rare five-second inbound violation and 10-second backcourt infraction.

“That’s the third straight game we’ve held our opponent under 35 percent field goal (shooting), and that’s been our goal all year,” Kieger said. “From last year to now, that’s what we’ve been focused on, and our team has really responded.”

With this win, Marquette now advances to play a team close to Kieger’s heart: No. 25 University of Miami. Kieger was an assistant coach there before taking the head coach position at Marquette.

“Half my staff coached (at Miami) or was around there, so it’s obviously an emotional one as we go back,” Kieger said. “It’s going be fun. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for our team. They’re a fantastic basketball team, they’re Top 25 (and) they’re very big. So it’s a very different matchup for us than we’ve had this year, but it’s going to be a phenomenal test.”

The matchup Thursday against Miami is part of the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. The game is set for 6 p.m. Central time.

“I’m very excited about going down to Miami and playing a Top 25 team,” Marotta said. “We’ll see how we do, I’m expecting that we bring the juice again.”

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