Golden Eagles’ comeback comes up short against No.20 DePaul

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Jordan King (23) dribbles in Marquette’s 87-82 loss to No. 20 DePaul Sunday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After losing to No. 3 UConn Friday night, Marquette women’s basketball experienced another setback Sunday afternoon as they came up short 87-82 against No. 20 DePaul at the Al McGuire Center.

It is the Golden Eagles’ first two-game losing streak since Dec. 29, 2019, to Jan. 3, 2020, of last season.

“Just really proud overall of the fight from our team,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “At the same time, we’re pretty disappointed about this one. We had opportunities to step up at the end, make a couple more plays and execute but overall we’ll move on and hopefully we can play some basketball like this in the future.”

The first quarter was sloppy for MU. as this has been the trend many times throughout the entire season. Despite sophomore guard Taylor Valladay hitting a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to keep the game within three, DePaul scored 10 points off of MU’s eight turnovers.

The Blue Demons lead 23-20 after one frame.

The second quarter consisted of back and forth runs by both teams. Sophomore guard Jordan King brought the game within one possession at the 8:28 mark of the frame before DePaul broke the game open to 10 points at the under-five media timeout off a 10-2 run.

Scoring in the paint, drawing fouls and making free-throws helped MU form a 14-6 run to end the quarter and head into halftime down by two, 42-40.

The Golden Eagles went a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe in the half.

The start to the third quarter was much wider than its ending, as DePaul opened the frame on a 14-4 run forcing Duffy to call a timeout at the 5:46 mark of the quarter.

“We had to (call a timeout) because DePaul went on their own run right out of halftime,” Duffy said. “We looked a little flat, looked little tired, dead legs, we weren’t communicating.”

The Golden Eagles offense woke up and exploded coming out of under-five media timeout of the quarter, ending on a 15-2 run sending DePaul only up up 63-59 going into the final quarter.

“I think our team obviously got to the point where we were like, we just had to go on the run,” King said. Basketball is a game of runs. But I think our team was able to get through that because of our toughness, mentally and physically just to keep pushing, keep grinding. I’m proud of, how we fought and going to keep continuing to fight. But that third-quarter push for us was huge.”

Duffy mentioned she is proud of the fight out of her team during that run.

“At one point we battled back and got some easy baskets and but that takes a lot of energy when you’re down and you got to keep fighting,” Duffy said. “(We) just got back to executing we slow down a little bit and slow down so we could read some of the things that were open but that was a really nice stretch for us to get back in the game.”

Despite three big 3-pointers off the bench from sophomore guard Claire Kaifes in the fourth quarter, which brought the game within one point at three different times, and three lead changes it was not enough.

Junior guard Sonya Morris hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds at the end and DePaul made 2-of-4 free-throws down the stretch to hold on and come up with the 87-82 victory.

King and redshirt senior forward Lauren Van Kleunen Van Kleunen led the way for MU with 21 points each. For King, it was a new career-high while adding two rebounds, seven assists and two steals on the afternoon.

“Our talk within those timeouts was just we have to keep fighting and that’s how I was able to find my way to the basket,” King said. “But I think overall, it was just the overall push and fight from our team and I was able to find some openings.”

Two other Golden Eagles finished in double-figures. Selena Lott finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and an assist. The Troy, New York, native is now seven steals away from a tie for 10th all-time in Golden Eagles history. Sophomore forward Camryn Taylor added 10 points, six rebounds and an assist as well.

Both Duffy and King were proud of Kaifes’ performance this afternoon. The Shawnee, Kansas, native had nine points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal on the afternoon.

“Great, great reps from the three-ball,” Duffy said. “She can really shoot the ball and hit some big shots for us. The good is she’s taking them now she’s not hesitant. She’s getting comfortable. I thought she made some great plays defensively.”

Church led the way for DePaul with a career-high 24 points, shooting 8-for-14 from the field, while grabbing six rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block on the afternoon.

Three other Blue Demons ended in double figures. Morris added 23 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Senior guard Dee Bekelja added 18 points and five rebounds. Lexi Held recorded 17 points, two rebounds, two assists and five steals.

Marquette (12-4, 9-3 BIG EAST) will remain home as they host Butler Wednesday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST and the game can be streamed on BIG EAST Digital Network on FloSports.

Despite the two losses this week, King said the overall mood for the Golden Eagles is positive and they are ready to get back to work.

“Just these past two games and the overall week, I think we pushed through a lot and there was a lot of growth for this team,” King said. “Honestly, I think there’s a lot to be proud of right now. Obviously, with two losses, it’s kind of hard on the heart, but I think we’re gonna get past it and we’re gonna keep working. There’s still some games left to play so we’re going to be ready.”

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