Marquette advances to WNIT Sweet 16 behind Van Kleunen’s career-high 27 points

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Marquette women’s basketball after its win over Purdue in the WNIT Second Round March 21.

“Can we just talk about Lauren Van Kleunen? I mean wow. She carried us from when we tipped that ball,” graduate student guard Karissa McLaughlin said. “I think she’s the storyline for today.”

Behind Van Kleunen’s career-high 27 points the Marquette women’s basketball team punched its ticket to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament Sweet 16 after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 77-62 Monday night at the Al McGuire Center.

“Another great victory here at the Al, just couldn’t be more thrilled for our seniors to continue one more day,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “I just thought the energy of the building, the way we shared the basketball, the way we got tougher as the game went was really great.”

For McLaughlin, Monday’s night’s second round matchup meant facing her alma matter. In four seasons with Purdue, McLaughlin broke the Purdue all-time 3-pointer record.

“A lot of emotions, I have a lot of respect for my alma matter. But it was fun,” McLaughlin said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world to be where I am right now.”

Marquette got out to a hot start, with Van Kleunen scoring the team’s first six points.

“Lauren did a great job inside,” Purdue head coach Katie Gearlds said. “But really in the first quarter just kind of set the tone and punched us in the mouth.”

Marquette got out to an early 10-6 lead before Purdue took its first lead of the game, 16-14 with 2:50 on the clock following an 5-0 scoring run.

The Golden Eagles then bounced back and went into the second quarter with a 24-18 lead behind 15 first quarter points from Van Kleunen.

Marquette’s offense and Van Kleunen kept their momentum rolling in the second quarter, opening the frame on a 7-1 run which prompted Purdue to call a timeout.

“Anytime you go on a run against a really good Purdue team it’s huge,” Van Kleunen said.

Coming out of the timeout, Purdue would find its offense as the Boilermakers went on a 9-2 scoring run to bring the Golden Eagles’ lead closer. McLaughlin made her second 3-pointer of the game with two seconds to go in the half to send the Golden Eagles into halftime leading 40-35.

The Boilermakers opened the third quarter with four quick points forcing Duffy to call an early timeout just over a minute into the quarter. McLaughlin said Duffy’s message in the Marquette huddle was defense.

“It was the defensive end that we needed to pick up and we did that,” McLaughlin said.

Following the timeout Marquette went on their own 10-2 scoring run, giving the Golden Eagles a 50-41 lead. Purdue continued to chip away and fight back with its own offense outscoring Marquette 7-6 in the remainder of the quarter.

Both teams continued to go basket for basket as they scored nine points a piece at the under-five media timeout of the fourth quarter.

Coming out of the timeout, Marquette’s offense sparked a 12-5 scoring run to end the frame including a dagger 3-pointer from McLaughlin with 57 seconds to go.

“I knew this next one was going to fall,” McLaughlin said. “I think it just kind of sealed the game let all the emotions out.”

For Van Kleunen, it was the 15th 20-plus point showing of her career. In addition, the graduate student forward has scored 20-plus in Marquette’s four of the past five games.

Along with her 27 points, Van Kleunen added 11 rebounds to complete her seventh overall and fourth of the season double-double.

Outside of Van Kluenen, junior guard Jordan King made her impact felt in the game finishing with 17 points, four assists and tied her career high for rebounds with nine.

“She was steady and made big plays for us,” Duffy said. “Whether that was a defensive stop, five offensive rebounds for her is big because she doesn’t really do it that much.”

Junior guard Antwainette provided Marquette with 10 points and four boards in 21 minutes of action off the bench.

“Now (that) she’s scoring on offense (it) brings a different type of style on the court,” McLaughlin said. “Now we have a driver on the court who can facilitate, who can get rebounds so I think she’s a hard matchup for some. I’m just very proud that she has waited her turn and has stepped up when it was her turn to shine.”

As a team the Golden Eagles went 28-for-63 from the field while holding the Boilermakers to just 24-for-64 from the field.

Marquette once again dominated on the glass, out-rebounding Purdue 43-32.

With the win, the Golden Eagles are now 16-9 all-time in WNIT games and 9-2 in the tournament when the game are played at the Al McGuire Center.

Marquette (23-10) will host Toledo (28-5) in the Sweet 16 of the WNIT Thursday night at 7 p.m. CST inside the Al McGuire Center.

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