WBB takes down Villanova in scrappy game

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Photo by John Steppe

Lauren Van Kleunen (42) attempts a shot in Marquette's win over Villanova Sunday afternoon.

Aimee Galaszewski

Marquette women’s basketball picked up a crucial victory over Villanova Sunday afternoon, defeating the Wildcats 57-52.

“This is a big one,” redshirt junior Lauren Van Kleunen said. “It’s a huge win for us, for the program. Villanova’s a heck of a team, they’re very hard to guard, and I think we did that for forty minutes tonight.”

With the win, Marquette is now tied for second place in the BIG EAST standings while Villanova has dropped back-to-back matchups.

“We’ve been a very steady group,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “We have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. Most importantly, to win two games at home, when you can protect your home floor is everything.”

The first quarter featured a lot of back-and-forth action, with three lead changes and three ties in the period. At the end of the quarter, Marquette led VU 14-13 paced by Van Kleunen’s six points and six rebounds.

Villanova stormed out to a hot start in the second frame and secured a 21-18 lead, holding MU scoreless for almost five minutes.

“(Villanova) is really, really hard to guard with their five-out motion and style,” Duffy said. “When you only have about a day and a half to prepare, it can be really challenging.”

But Marquette snatched the momentum right back with a strong defensive effort and knotted the score at 26-26 entering the halftime break.

The third quarter was once again a chess match, with both teams going on runs at separate points in the frame. Heading into the fourth, it was tied up at 43-43 thanks to Selena Lott notching her first points of the game at the end of the quarter.

The Golden Eagles were able to gain some separation in the early part of the fourth quarter, holding Villanova scoreless for almost three minutes.

Despite a strong Wildcats scoring push, Marquette made crucial free throws and got big defensive stops down the stretch to record a 57-52 victory.

“What I love about this team is we’re showing we can win in different ways,” Duffy said. “We can have a great offensive night and let the ball move and we’re bombing threes and looking good that way, and then you have a game like today where you just find a way to win.”

Van Kleunen recorded her first double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. 

Senior Isabelle Spingola had a double-double of her own with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Altia Anderson totaled 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists on the day, while junior Selena Lott put up six points, six rebounds and 10 assists.

As a team, Marquette scored 40 points in the paint.

“(Post play) was an emphasis,” Duffy said. “We kept throwing bodies at them and it was a little bit of the mental toughness too. … Every timeout, we were trying to rally around each other and give confidence to each other and (tell everyone) to keep battling.”

For Villanova, Madison Seagrist put up 25 points and six rebounds and Mary Gedaka added 16 points and seven assists.

“They’re both really, really great players,” Van Kleunen said. “They’re tough and hard-nosed, they can do everything. That’s what makes them so tough, but I think we did a good job. (With) Selena, Altia, we did it by committee tonight. We showed that we can defend really well.”

Marquette (15-5, 6-3 BIG EAST) returns to the Al McGuire Center Friday for a matchup against Providence College.

“We’ve got to just keep it going,” Van Kleunen said. “We’ve still got to act like we were picked ninth. We’ve gotta keep improving in and out of practice.”