Women’s basketball picks up largest win over DePaul in program history


Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Marquette women’s basketball celebrates its largest win over DePaul in program history Friday at the Al McGuire Center.

Marquette had to wait 304 days to avenge its 35-point BIG EAST Championship loss to DePaul, but when the opportunity came Friday night against the No. 24 Blue Demons, Marquette took advantage, winning 96-63.

“We were ready,” Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “We were hungry. We’ve been sitting on that L for a long time thinking about that. The team was locked in.”

Friday’s 33-point win was the largest win over DePaul in program history. The next largest win was a 23-point win in 1999, five years before the Al McGuire Center was built.

Kieger described her excitement as being on “cloud nine.”

“Right now I can’t even think,” Kieger said. “I’m so proud of the team.”

Senior guard Natisha Hiedeman also made history, setting a new career high in scoring and tying her career high in steals. She finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, six assists and six steals.

“The best way to describe it was just sick,” Kieger said. “She was insane today. … There were a couple of plays that could be on SportsCenter again.”

She was two steals short of tying an Al McGuire Center record and three short of tying a program record, which Kieger said helped Hiedeman’s offense.

“It got her offense going,” Kieger said. “When you can get yourself easy buckets in transition, the rim becomes bigger and bigger.”

Hiedeman joked about her confidence coming from her new haircut.

“We were ready to go,” Hiedeman said. “We were energetic from before even the game started.”

Fellow senior guard Amani Wilborn finished with a season-high 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Hiedeman and Wilborn combined to have four more points in the first three quarters than the entire DePaul roster.

“(Wilborn) was just so aggressive,” Hiedeman said. “Her finishing is almost unstoppable. Her first step is so quick, and she sees the floor. And she was shooting tonight, so she did a little bit of everything.”

The Golden Eagles didn’t waste any time Friday night, finishing the first quarter on a 20-4 run and had a 29-9 lead.

Marquette had two stretches of five consecutive field goals in the first quarter without an individual player taking over until later in the game. Wilborn scored the team’s first seven points, but no player had more than 10 points in the quarter.

A year after scoring only 10 points against DePaul in last year’s BIG EAST Championship, Hiedeman matched that scoring total early in the second quarter.

Marquette was incredibly efficient, racking up 21 assists while committing only 10 turnovers.

Meanwhile the Blue Demons struggled to pick up any defensive rhythm, shooting 34 percent from the field and 16 percent from three.

“That’s one of the best teams in the country, and we held them way below their average (scoring),” Kieger said. “And we did it with (good) defense, and that’s how much this team has matured in the last year.”

“We were pretty flawless on defense,” Kieger said. “We handled their screen coverage. We were in their grill in transition. That’s the jump we needed to make as a program.”

Marquette had more steals than turnovers for the fifth time this season.

The Golden Eagles pulled off the rout without reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year Allazia Blockton, who missed her second consecutive game with an ankle injury.

“Our team picks up the slack when one goes down,” Kieger said.

Kieger said Blockton’s status remains “day-to-day” with hopes of returning next weekend.

Friday’s result also gives Marquette another quality win for its postseason resume. A top-16 seed would mean Marquette could host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and avoid another top-16 team until the second weekend of the tournament.

The Golden Eagles plays its first road game of the BIG EAST season Thursday at Villanova and will have a much shorter wait next time until they play DePaul again: 30 days.