Women’s basketball advances to Battle 4 Atlantis Championship game

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(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette women’s basketball is one win away from winning the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis.

“I’m not sure this was the prettiest basketball game we’ve seen since the tournament started, but I’m just really thrilled with the win,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “We had a statement program win against Texas last night, then came back with the same grit and determination to win a little bit differently.

“I thought we had great contributions by our bench, and in a tournament with three games in three days you’re going to have to have different people step up, and that was definitely the case this afternoon.”

Behind shutdown defense in the fourth quarter, as it held Gonzaga to no field goals in the final 7:47, the Golden Eagles defeated the Bulldogs 70-66 Sunday afternoon at Imperial Arena.

“Down the stretch of the fourth quarter, we just kept saying, ‘Let’s make sure Gonzaga doesn’t get their their shots where they’re comfortable,” Duffy said.

Senior forward Chloe Marotta recorded her fourth double-figure scoring performance of the season as she finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a career-high four blocks. Senior guard Jordan King added 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“Really proud of Jordan and Chloe to my left and right, just the way they led our team today,” Duffy said.

Gonzaga jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter after several Marquette turnovers. The Golden Eagles rattled off a 13-5 run to take their first lead of the game at the midway point of the quarter.

The Bulldogs took a 17-15 lead into the second quarter and quickly expanded their lead to seven points. With Gonzaga leading 27-20, first-year guard Emily La Chapell hit a three to kick start a 19-5 run for Marquette the rest of the way.

“We went to our bench with a couple of freshmen in Emily La Chapell and Kenzie Hare were terrific. We went on our scoring run with our reserves in which is terrific,” said Duffy. “We’ve been talking all year for our team, we’re in some new roles, we have some youth, part of this non-conference is to shape and mold and invest in each other.”

Gonzaga senior guard Kaylyn Truong ended a frantic third quarter hitting a half-court shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 54-54 a piece heading into the final frame.

Marquette went on a 7-0 scoring run following the under-five media timeout to take a 63-59 lead with 3:11 left to go. The final 3:11 would see just a single field goal for both teams, a layup by Marotta, as the Golden Eagles made five free-throws in the stretch to come out ahead.

“It definitely takes a lot of experience. I think Jordan and I have been in situations like that plenty of times on the court,” Marotta said. “It’s really important that we leave the others knowing that, we’re gonna be alright, take a deep breath. Let’s execute and let’s defend.”

The Golden Eagles received 16 points, six assists and four rebounds from its bench on the afternoon. Meanwhile the Bulldogs bench finished with seven points, four rebounds and two assists.

Marquette hit eight 3-pointer while shooting 40% from behind the arc. First-year guard MacKenzie Hare accounted for half of those 3-pointers.

In a game with 29 total turnovers, Marquette won the turnover battle.

With the win, it is Marquette’s first 5-0 start since 2010-11 and its fourth in program history.

Marquette (5-0) will now take on UCLA (5-0) in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game Monday at 11 a.m. CST. It will be televised on ESPN.

“This has been a great experience being able to come in and show what Marquette basketball is about. Coming in playing confident, playing free and making a statement,”King said . “I think that was our biggest thing is to come down here, play Marquette basketball and let’s shock the world a little bit.”

This story was written by John Gunville. He can be reached at j[email protected] and on Twitter @GunvilleJohn.