Women’s basketball falls 88-73 to DePaul in BIG EAST title game

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Photo by Zach Bukowski

Selena Lott (24) led the Golden Eagles with 26 points.

 

CHICAGO — Marquette women’s basketball fell to the No. 15 DePaul Blue Demons 88-73 in the BIG EAST title game for the third straight year Monday night.

“Congratulations to DePaul and Coach Bruno, what a tremendous team,” Marquette women’s head coach Megan Duffy said. “Such a high octane offense that is very difficult to defend. Their pressure on us was a huge key to the game. Despite all that, I am extremely proud and very excited for what is ahead with this team, our no-quit attitude especially in that fourth quarter to try to battle back.”

The win for DePaul marks the first time in the BIG EAST Tournament a team has won three straight years since University of Connecticut did it five straight times from 2008-12.

It was Marquette’s defense in the first quarter that allowed the Golden Eagles to get off to a hot start, as they held DePaul to 4-for-17 shooting early on. DePaul sophomore guard Lexi Held made a jumper at the buzzer to cut the MU lead to 18-17 heading into the second quarter.

The start to the second quarter was much closer than its ending, as DePaul’s high tempo press brought struggles to the MU offense.

“Offensively, they are constantly moving, and anyone can shoot it so it is hard to defend,” redshirt junior forward Lauren Van Kleunen said. “Communication-wise we didn’t have it. They were just constantly moving, and we took that second to relax and that hurt us. You can’t do that against DePaul, they are too good.”

A 15-2 run by DePaul over a span of 4:17 in the second frame forced Duffy to call a timeout as the Blue Demons broke the game open with an eight-point lead.

“Thing about playing DePaul and getting them on the third day is they can wear you out with their ability to score and the pressure,” Duffy said. “I thought that got to us a little bit early on. They have always been known for that, and unfortunately, we were unable to stop the bleeding with it.”

DePaul outscored MU 28-15 in the quarter, giving the Blue Demons a 45-33 lead at halftime.

Marquette’s defensive struggles continued in the beginning minutes of the third quarter as DePaul opened up to a 5-0 run, forcing Duffy to call a timeout one minute and 15 seconds into the frame.

Despite shooting a quarter-best 71% from the field, MU turned the ball over 11 times in the quarter, finding themselves down 22 heading into the final frame.

Marquette showed some signs of a comeback in the fourth quarter as senior guard Isabelle Spingola hit a 3-pointer at the 2:03 mark to bring the game within 14. Despite holding DePaul to finish 1-for-9 from the field to finish the game, Marquette was unable to pull the comeback, falling 88-74.

On the night, Marquette shot 58% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc while DePaul shot 42% and 58%, respectively.

DePaul scored 30 points off of Marquette’s 27 turnovers. It is the 10th time this season that the Golden Eagles turned over the ball 20 or more times in a game.

“I feel good about our offense when we are executing. I feel we are a better defensive team than we showed today,” Duffy said. “We will get back to the basics. It is a great thing about when you get prepared for the NCAA Tournament … you can go back to the little things and work on catching the ball and getting our confidence back.”

MU dominated once again in the paint, scoring 46 points and outrebounding DePaul 38-29.

“We knew we had the size advantage inside there,” Van Kleunen said. “Every time I got down the floor I was trying to post up on small girls and do my best with that. We pride ourselves as a group just to be relentless in the paint, on the boards and in everything.”

Lott led the way for the Golden Eagles on the night with 26 points, shooting 10-14. The Troy, New York, native added six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Van Kleunen added 22 points, five rebounds and an assist. The Mason, Ohio, native was named to the All-BIG EAST Tournament Team.

Held led the way for the Blue Demons on the night with 31 points, shooting 10-for-14. She also added four assists and three steals. Held was named the BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Two other Blue Demons finished in double digits. Senior forward Chante Stonewall added 22 points, six rebounds and two assists. Senior guard Kelly Campbell added 16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

The Golden Eagles (24-8) will now wait to see where the NCAA selection committee places them for the tournament, which begins March 19.

“I am actually going to give them a few days off for spring break, but I can’t wait to get back in the gym with them and get back to coaching them up and practicing with them,” Duffy said. “I can’t tell you how much I love these girls. I know we are going to be back ready to go here in a couple of days and looking forward to, hopefully, the NCAA Tournament.”

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