Women’s basketball almost lost its first home game of BIG EAST play Sunday, edging St. John’s 83-73 despite a late Red Storm comeback.
“We didn’t play our best today,” senior guard Natisha Hiedeman said. “In crucial moments, people stepped up.”
Neither team sustained a convincing lead throughout the game.
The Golden Eagles shot 47 percent but were unable to block the post. The Red Storm had a game-high nine rebounds in the second quarter.
“We wanted to pack the paint and I don’t think we did a great job of that,” head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “They got way too many uncontested looks inside.”
St. John’s was incredibly efficient offensively, shooting 53 percent in each quarter in the second half.
Meanwhile, Marquette went from shooting 53 percent in the first half to 39 percent in the second half.
The Golden Eagles went from leading by 15 midway through the third quarter to leading by just four points late in the fourth quarter.
To make matters worse, senior forward Erika Davenport limped off the court at the 7:38 mark. She returned with 2:51 remaining.
Crucial free throws from Amani Wilborn, Erika Davenport and Danielle King put Marquette up 76-70 with 1:11 remaining.
With St. John’s leading scorer Curteeona Brelove fouled out, the Red Storm could not cut into Marquette’s lead. Hiedeman had a clutch steal, fastbreak layup and pair of free throws to secure the win for the Golden Eagles.
“We’re not going to win by 30 every game. We’re going to have to earn it,” Kieger said. “Our team did a really good job of staying tough and staying focused. Those types of games teach us more than 30-point wins.”
One positive for Marquette was the return of senior guard Allazia Blockton. The reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year played 12 minutes in her first game since injuring her ankle Dec. 29 against Providence.
“Today was just about getting her back in the flow,” Kieger said. “We’re not going to go zero to 60 with her. I thought she looked good. I thought she was moving well. We just have to make sure she just keeps getting confident as we go.”
Blockton didn’t score, but her fellow seniors picked up the slack. Hiedeman led all scorers with 23 points, King recorded 22 and Wilborn added 11.
Davenport finished with 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. She had her sixth double-double of the season by halftime.
“She’s been very consistent in this conference play,” Kieger said. “We know we can rely on that every game. … That’s a sigh of relief for us when we step onto the floor.”
Brelove led the Red Storm with 22 points. Senior guard Akina Wellere recorded a team-high eight rebounds and redshirt sophomore Tiana England dished out five assists.
No. 14 Marquette (16-3, 7-0 BIG EAST) will put its undefeated conference record to the test at Xavier (10-8, 1-6 BIG EAST) Friday at 6 p.m. Central Time. The Golden Eagles beat the Musketeers by at least 17 points in both contests last season.
“We have to play our game and know what we’re here to do and bring the energy,” Hiedeman said. “Mentally, we slacked on a couple plays.”