Women’s basketball dominates in 78-55 win over St. John’s in BIG EAST Semifinals

Selana+Lott+%2824%29+goes+up+for+a+layup+in+Marquette%27s+78-55+win+over+St.+John%27s+in+the+BIG+EAST+Semifinals.+Lott+led+the+Golden+Eagles+with+18+points.+

Photo by Zach Bukowski

Selana Lott (24) goes up for a layup in Marquette’s 78-55 win over St. John’s in the BIG EAST Semifinals. Lott led the Golden Eagles with 18 points.

CHICAGO — Two former St. John’s assistant coaches battled each other at Wintrust Arena as Megan Duffy’s Golden Eagles defeated Joe Tartamella’s Red Storm 78-55 in the BIG EAST Semifinals Sunday night.

“Can’t tell you how proud I am of these two (Selena Lott and Isabelle Spingola) sitting next to me and our entire team. A very exciting locker room to be coming back tomorrow to play for a championship,” Duffy said. “I thought our defense in the second half was the difference and just a balance attack inside.”

The win marks the fourth straight year Marquette will be playing in the BIG EAST title game.

Marquette got out to another hot start in the first quarter, forcing Tartamella to call a timeout after Spingola hit a 3-pointer to put the Golden Eagles up 16-6 with 3:40 left in the frame. Seven different Marquette players scored in the quarter as MU led 20-12.

In the second quarter, MU broke the game open with a 13-point lead at the 4:05 mark.

A 10-2 run over the last 3:42 of the first half by the Johnnies and a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from first-year guard Leilani Correa brought SJU within five at 35-30.

“Our defense fell apart for a minute,” Duffy said. “We had a really hard time keeping the ball in front of us. They got a ton of paint touches which led to some fouls, some easy baskets so we just went back at halftime to collect ourselves and made some minor adjustments on a few matchups.”

The third quarter was tightly contested, as Marquette narrowly outscored St. John’s 17-11 in the frame.

Marquette relied on its bread and butter all season during the fourth quarter, driving to the basket and drawing fouls. The Golden Eagles outscored the Redstorm 24-14 in the final frame and 16-4 over the last six minutes cruising to a 78-55 win.

Marquette shot 56% from the field on the night, marking a program-best field goal shot percentage for the Golden Eagles in the BIG EAST Tournament.

MU dominated SJU both in the paint and rebounding with 52-30 and 41-25, respectfully.

Tartamella said Marquette’s size advantage contributed to his team’s difficulty stopping the Golden Eagles’ potent attack throughout the game.

Lott led the way for the Golden Eagles on the night with 18 points, shooting 7-for-9. The junior guard was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and added two assists and a steal. It is the 17th time this season the Troy, New York, native has scored 15 or more points.

“She got into a little foul trouble but her efficiency was incredible,” Duffy said. “(She’s) steady. Hopefully, she will have fresh legs tomorrow since she didn’t play as many heavy minutes.”

Three other Golden Eagles finished in double digits. First-year guard Jordan King added 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a steal. Redshirt junior forward Lauren Van Kleunen added 12 points and five rebounds. Spingola added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, recording her third double-double of the season.

Sophomore forward Chloe Marotta scored eight points and pulled down six rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.

“Thought Chloe Marotta was tremendous tonight,” Duffy said. “Just scoring efficiently in the paint.”

Leilani Correa led the way for the Red Storm on the night with 13 points, shooting 5-for-9. The BIG EAST Sixth-Woman of the Year also contributed three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Marquette’s (24-7, 13-5 BIG EAST) next game will be against No. 18 DePaul in the BIG EAST Championship Monday night at 7 p.m. at Wintrust Arena.

Tomorrow’s game between the Golden Eagles and the Blue Demons will be the first time in the history of the BIG EAST Tournament that the same two teams will face off in the title game for four straight years.

“Thought it was really cool that (Carolyn Kieger) and her staff kind of got this thing going that it has turned it into a little bit of a rivalry … I am just thrilled that we still have the opportunity to keep that rivalry going,” Duffy said. “We are going to give our best effort.”

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.