Golden Eagles end non-conference schedule with win

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Junior guard Jordan King (23) looks to make a pass in Marquette women’s basketball’s 60-49 win over Cincinnati Dec. 22. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After a falling to Seton Hall due to poor shooting Saturday, Marquette women’s basketball turned things around Wednesday and defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 60-49 at the Al McGuire Center.

“Just excited to get a win before the Christmas break,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “Really proud of a lot of different people stepping up today. When Jordan King got a couple of fouls and we had to take her out, and Karissa McLaughlin went out with an injury, I thought our entire collective group rose up together and gutted it out.”

The first quarter featured back-and-forth action at the start, before the Golden Eagles pushed a 5-0 run to get up 10-2 forcing the Bearcats to call a timeout.

“It started with our defense,” Duffy said. “Thought we were doing a great job of communicating and getting stops.”

Coming out of the timeout, the Golden Eagles were unable to keep their momentum as the Bearcats defense held them to just three points in the last five minutes of the quarter. It resulted in Marquette holding a close 13-8 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Golden Eagles finished the game tempering a late push from Cincinnati who started to make shots and get into their full court press that ultimately led to nine turnovers in the final frame.

Early in the second quarter, graduate student guard Karissa McLaughlin went down with an apparent knee injury. McLaughlin was helped off the court and did not return.

“She rolled her ankle and we’ll see,” Duffy said. “Perfect timing of having a little bit of a break with the holidays. I’m just happy everyone else stepped up around her cause she got off to a nice start.”

After picking up two fouls in the first quarter junior guard Jordan King didn’t see the floor in the second quarter.

Both teams struggled starting out the second quarter. While Cincinnati held Marquette scoreless for a span of 4:47 of the frame, the Golden Eagles were able to outscore the Bearcats 11-8 in the quarter to take a 24-16 into halftime.

Marquette’s defense held Cincinnati to just 19.4% from the field and 0-for-10 from the 3-point line in the first half.

After giving up the first basket in the third quarter, Marquette went on an 8-0 run to get out to a 32-18 lead less than three minutes into the quarter resulting in Cincinnati taking another timeout. The run would get to be as big as 10 before Cincinnati got back on the board.

“We knew they were going to apply pressure, just kind of didn’t know when,” King said. “We just had to handle it, get out of it and get back into executing in the half court.”

Behind, King’s six points and Marquette 8-for-17 shooting from the field in the field alone, the Golden Eagles took a 41-28 lead into the final stanza.

The fourth quarter was tight throughout, as Cincinnati’s defense turned the pressure on defense scoring nine points off of Marquette’s nine turnovers. The Bearcats rally came up short as the Golden Eagles were able to hold ground and pull out the 60-49 victory.

Redshirt sophomore guard Nirel Lougbo made her first appearance of the season in the second quarter. Lougbo missed the entire season last year.

“Just seeing her go through this process has been hard,” King said. “The 12 of us have been behind her while she’s continued to make progress and today to get her back on the court and in the jersey was a really special feeling.”

King led the way on the afternoon for Marquette with a season-high 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“She came out awesome in that third quarter, just aggressive, got to the different spots on the floor where she’s really good,” Duffy said. “I thought she was good defensively as well.”

Graduate student forward Lauren Van Kleunen fell short of a double-double as she finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and an assist.

With her 13 points, Van Kleunen past former Marquette guard Selena Lott on the all-time scoring list and now sits 22nd in program history with 1,201 career points.

As a team Marquette shot 21-for 53 from the field while Cincinnati shot 19-for- 64 from the field.

Marquette finishes their non-conference schedule with a 7-2 record, with both losses coming against Colorado and then-No. 21 Georgia.

With the win, the Golden Eagles move to 7-0 at the Al McGuire Center this season and 26-5 at home all-time under Duffy.

Marquette will now head into a one-week holiday break before resuming conference play with a trip to Hartford, Connecticut Dec. 29 to face national powerhouse No. 13 UConn at 6 p.m. EST.

“The best team in our league, super exciting, it’s going to be a national TV game,” Duffy said. “Just to showcase our two programs we will be excited to play in that game.”

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.