Marquette earns first win of season despite North Dakota’s late run

Jordan+King+%2823%29+looks+for+a+teammate%2C+while+Megan+Duffy+coaches+from+the+sidelines+in+Marquette+women%27s+basketball%27s+first+win+of+the+2020-21+season.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Jordan King (23) looks for a teammate, while Megan Duffy coaches from the sidelines in Marquette women’s basketball’s first win of the 2020-21 season. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After an abrupt end to last season following their 88-74 loss to DePaul in the BIG EAST Championship Game in March, the Marquette women’s basketball team was back in action and defeated the North Dakota Fighting Hawks 90-82 Sunday afternoon.

“Any win to get the season off right is tremendous,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “North Dakota gave us everything we could handle all the way up to that buzzer ended. Happy with some things from our group today. … At this point getting the first win of the season is the most important and it just felt so good to be back on the floor.”

Marquette got out to a slow start, shooting 1-for-6 in the opening minutes. The Golden Eagles then went on a 17-4 run over the last five minutes of the opening frame that put them ahead. Redshirt senior forward Lauren Van Kleunen dished out seven points in the frame including her second career three-pointer as MU led 24-17.

“There were a few different runs throughout the game for both teams,” Duffy said. “It was a little bit slow of a start for us just kind of getting our legs back after lunch and not as much practice as we would have liked but we went on a nice run in that first quarter and gave up a few too many threes and got in a little bit of trouble but we’re able to sustain that run.”

The second quarter was tighter, as North Dakota narrowly outscored Marquette 25-24 in the frame, leading by 15 at one point. MU headed into halftime only up by eight, 48-40 due to a UND 10-3 run over the last three minutes of the half.

“They had a huge size advantage on us and we knew coming into the game that was going to be something would have a tough time with especially on rebounding,” North Dakota interim head coach Mallory Bernhard said. “They were knocking down shots, got some really good guards and really well-coached team (in) just how they attack and go through things.”

In the third quarter, MU had a scoring surge leading UND 71-54 into the last quarter.

Despite being down 17 points heading to go in the fourth, UND didn’t give up. The Fighting Hawks went on a 12-2 run over the final four minutes, but it was not enough as MU pulled out a 90-82 victory.

King led the way for the Golden Eagles with a new career-high 20 points, shooting 8-for-16. The sophomore guard was 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and added three rebounds, five assists and one block.

“It was great to see her come out with just an aggressive mentality,” Duffy said. “I knew going into (her) second year, she’s going to have a lot of nights like this. She had some big buckets, her pull-up game was working tonight which is awesome and probably her greatest strength has always been her steadiness and now it’s pretty cool to watch her game evolve a little bit more. ”

Three other Golden Eagles finished in double digits. Sophomore forward Camryn Taylor added 17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals, recording her second career double-double. Lott added 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Van Kleunen had 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

Sophomore guard Taylor Valladay saw career-high numbers as the Chicago, Illinois native scored eight points, pulled down two rebounds and collected two assists in 13 minutes off the bench.

Julia Fleecs led for the Fighting Hawks on the afternoon with 23 points, shooting 8-for-12. The senior forward contributed four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Next Marquette (1-0) will face crosstown rival University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. CST at the Al McGuire Center.

Duffy mentioned how MU’s offense will evolve over time, but her squad’s defense is her biggest concern heading into Wednesday’s home opener.

“We had kind of a thorn in our side. We were giving up too many paint touches and then we gave up too many three-pointers,” Duffy said. “That’s going to be the emphasis in (our next) two days to kind of get back on the court and improve and get better. Anybody like can tell you at this point, you’re going to have up and down games on the offensive side of the ball, especially early on, but we got to really tighten up some things defensively foul, a little and have a little bit more toughness to guard the basketball.”

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