Late comeback helps Marquette stay alive in NCAA Tournament

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Late comeback helps Marquette stay alive in NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

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COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — After trailing by as much as nine points in the fourth quarter, Marquette women’s basketball stormed back to a 58-54 overtime victory over Rice to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“Incredibly proud of my team,” head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “We’ve been saying all year, ‘You’re never out of the fight’, and they stayed with it.”

This is the second consecutive season the Golden Eagles have reached the second round.

“I knew we were going to win (this) game based off (our) responses and the demeanor they had in huddles,” Kieger said.

Marquette shot poorly in the first half, going 18 percent from deep. A buzzer-beating layup from sophomore Selena Lott gave the Golden Eagles a 20-19 lead at halftime.

The second half was not much better for MU offensively, but a 9-0 run tied the game in the final seconds of regulation.

“We made shots when it counted,” Kieger said. “I cannot say enough about their toughness and their heart to finish in that moment.”

Rice had a chance to win the game in regulation, but guard Shani Rainey missed a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“We took a deep breath and relaxed (heading into overtime),” Kieger said. “The way we pushed tempo there in the last five minutes… we stayed in control and had that one-minute mentality.”

Marquette outscored Rice 6-2 and Gad much control over the pace of play in overtime.

“We kept our composure, and we just kept calm,” senior guard Allazia Blockton said. “Our maturity helped us a lot to win this game. We fought for the best open option, and I think it really helped us down the stretch.”

The Golden Eagles finished the game shooting 34 percent from the field and 17 percent from the perimeter.

Senior guard Natisha Hiedeman led MU with 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Blockton and redshirt sophomore Lauren Van Kleunen also scored in double figures.

Van Kleunen had a team-high nine rebounds. Lott followed her with eight rebounds.

“Defensively, I thought we did a phenomenal job,” Van Kleunen said. “We just need to be able to push tempo better, get the ball out quick and hit every run.”

Conference USA Player of the Year Erica Ogwumike led the Owls with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

Nancy Mulkey was the only other player for the Owls to score in double figures, scoring 18.

Mulkey entered play ranked fourth in the nation in blocks. She had five on the day against MU.

Rice went 4 for 11 from beyond the arc and 23 for 58 overall.

MU’s win ended Rice’s 21-game winning streak. This was also the Owls’ first loss in 2019.

The Golden Eagles will play against the winner of No. 13 Wright State and No. 4 Texas A&M on Sunday.

“Going into our next game, we’re going to fix our mistakes that we had this game,” Hiedeman said. “We’ll hopefully be able to correct them by Sunday.”

 

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