Lott’s 34 points help Golden Eagles overcome ‘ugly’ start, outlast St. John’s

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Photo by John Steppe

Junior guard Selena Lott scored 34 points in Marquette’s 94-85 win over St. John’s.

Aimee Galaszewski

After an unflattering first two-plus minutes in which Marquette fell behind 10-2 to St. John’s Friday night, MU head coach Megan Duffy had a simple message for her team.

“She was just saying that this is not us,” junior guard Selena Lott said.

Duffy’s team responded to that message with a 94-85 win over the Red Storm at the Al McGuire Center. It was Marquette’s first home BIG EAST win in the Duffy era.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team,” Duffy said. “They had a different look about themselves. … It was fun to watch.”

After trailing for most of the game, the Golden Eagles took the lead with 5:23 remaining on a layup from sophomore forward Chloe Marotta.

After trading baskets for the next few minutes, the Golden Eagles finished on a 12-1 run to ensure the victory. Duffy said she could sit back and “let them take care of it.”

All 12 points came from either Lott or senior forward Altia Anderson.

“Coach was telling me to get the ball in my hands,” Lott said. “It’s a little scary at times.”

Lott had a career-high 34 points on 12-for-18 shooting in the win. Duffy said the performance showed Lott is “very capable” of being a go-to player in the BIG EAST.

“Selena was completely locked in tonight,” Duffy said. “She had an aggressive mentality about her. … The energy that she brought with that fed off to the rest of our team.”

Duffy partially attributed Lott’s success to finding “little ways to keep the defense off balance” while watching film with assistant coach Vernette Skeete.

Lott accomplished her career high while also having to defend star guard Qadashah Hoppie, who scored 22 points.

Redshirt junior Lauren Van Kleunen tied her season-high with 19 points. Anderson had 14 points.

First-year guard Nirel Lougbo had just one bucket, but she made a defensive impact in 18 minutes. While she was on the floor, MU outscored St. John’s by 15.

“Nirel Lougbo off the bench defensively was really good,” Duffy said. “It’s going to take — to beat a team like St. John’s, to beat these very talented teams — a big-time collective effort, and we had that tonight on our home floor.”

Prior to the fourth quarter, Marquette had the lead for only six seconds despite coming tantalizingly close to leading throughout the first three quarters.

“It was a little bit ugly in the first half,” Duffy said. “Couldn’t really find our mojo or our energy level. St. John’s was really driving it down our throats.”

The Red Storm shot 67% from 3-point range with all five starters hitting at least one 3-pointer.

“They’re so athletic to the rim, and now they’re going to hit 3s?” Duffy said. “We were kind of shaking our head a couple times.”

“We focused more on them attacking and then kind of backed off of their 3s,” Lott said. “And then if they hit it, still stick to the game plan, and that’s what we did.”

MU overcame the 10-2 deficit in the first quarter, but St. John’s built and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second quarter.

“They were the aggressor in so many ways (early in the game),” Duffy said. “If you’re back on your heels, just kind of questioning what you want to do offensively and defensively, a team like St. John’s is just going to run away with the game.”

Four St. John’s guards combined to score 64 of the Red Storm’s 85 points. Duffy described first-year guard Leilani Correa as a “stud,” coming off the bench with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Now the Golden Eagles (11-4, 2-2 BIG EAST) look to continue their first winning streak of BIG EAST play hosting Seton Hall Sunday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

“It’s exciting, but we can’t get too high off of it,” Lott said. “We just have to stay consistent.”