Marquette falls in the Sweet 16 despite Marotta’s 28 points

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Chloe Marotta (52) attempts a shot in Marquette’s loss to Toledo March 24 in the WNIT Sweet 16.

Even in what was a record setting day for the Marquette women’s basketball team, including a career high 28 points from senior forward Chole Marotta, the Golden Eagles fell short of making it to the Elite Eight of the WNIT fell to the Toledo Rockets 92-82 Thursday night at the Al McGuire Center.

“It’s always hard when you don’t get to go to practice tomorrow and your season is over, so obviously a very disappointed and emotional group in the locker room,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “But as their coach I’m just extremely proud of just the value of playing in this tournament and having a chance to really get better these past couple of weeks.”

The first quarter was back and forth early on in, but Toledo was able to find its footing from beyond the 3-point line hitting back-to-back triples to take a 19-10 lead with 3:57 left in the frame, forcing Duffy to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, the Golden Eagles outscored the Rockets with 12-3 fueled by sophomore forward Liza Karlen’s seven points.

Marquette would then tie the game 22-22 with 13 seconds remaining but Toledo junior guard Sophia Wiard hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left to take a 25-22 lead into the second quarter.

“We were a little bit of step slow, our reaction was a little bit off so it allowed them to just get confident, go downhill and get out in transition,” Duffy said. “It was just really what we had prepared for (but) we just didn’t do a good job of stopping it,” Duffy said.

Toldeo continued its hot shooting in the second quarter as they shot 8-for-9 from the field and took a 43-33 lead with 4:36 left in the quarter, coming off a layup from first-year forward Jessica Cook.

The Golden Eagles would turn things around after the media timeout, putting together another extended run to cut its deficit to 49-46 at halftime.

Both Marotta and Karlen finished with 12 points each in the first 20 minutes for Marquette.

To begin the third quarter, both teams exchanged runs to start out the frame. Following a 6-0 run from Toledo to build a 64-56 lead with  5:41 to go in the quarter, Marquette responded with a 6-0 run of its own to cut the deficit to 64-62.

Following two free-throws from Marotta, the Golden Eagles went into the final stanza leading 74-70.

Similar to the previously three periods, the fourth was a tightly contested one as Marquette held a narrow 78-77 lead with 5:01 left.

After the under-five media timeout, Toledo flipped the script and went on a 7-0 run to take an 84-78 lead with 3:32 left to play.

Marquette would respond with back-to-back baskets from graduate student forward Lauren Van Kleunen to bring the game within two 84-82.

That would be as close as the Golden Eagles would get, as Rockets held Marquette failed to score in the final two minutes. On the flip side, junior guard Quinesha Lockett scored 21 fourth quarter points, including six of Toledo’s last eight points.

Lockett finished with a game high 37 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“She (Lockett) was special,” Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop said. “She wanted it so badly. We are starting to see her be the Quinesha she has been all season long, but very special performance tonight, very special performance by her tonight.”

Marotta led the way for Marquette with 28 points, followed by Karlen and McLaughlin who had 16 points each.

Toledo hit 11 of 20 3-pointers in the game, the most three’s Duffy’s squad has allowed this season.

“They are very balanced, they run a ton of great stuff, really six of them were early in that first quarter,” Duffy said. “Thought we settled in and got a little better defensively from the three and then the ones in the second half were incredibly just timely.”

In her final game in a Marquette uniform, Van Kleuen finished with nine points on 4-for-12 along with five rebounds and three assists.

The Mason, Ohio native concludes her career with 1,501 points and 802 rebounds which rank 13th and ninth in program history. 

“To have Lauren (Van Kleunen) over the last four years, I came in thinking I was going to have two years with her and I’m more than lucky to have had four with her,” Marotta said. “She has taught me something that no other person will probably teach me. I have learned more from her off the court than I’ve learned from her on the court honestly with her attitude, leadership and the way she runs this team.”

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.