Turnovers, King fouling out cost women’s basketball Battle 4 Atlantis Championship

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Senior guard Nia Clark attempts a layup in Marquette women’s basketball’s 66-58 loss to No. 20 UCLA in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game Nov. 21. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Entering the day with a chance to hoist a hubcap on the national stage, the Marquette women’s basketball team fell to No. 20 UCLA by a score of 66-58 in overtime Monday afternoon in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game.

“I’m just really proud of our program for the performance we had this week,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “There’s no better way to start the day than with the final going to overtime. I thought our toughness and grittiness is good, but give UCLA a lot of credit. Down the stretch, they made tremendous plays and we just came up a little bit short.”

Marquette finished runner-up in the tournament with wins against then-No. 3 Texas and Gonzaga. The Golden Eagles earned 65 votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, which is equivalent to the unofficial No. 27 team in the country.

“The greatest thing we learned is that we can compete against the top teams in the country,” Duffy said. “We feel like we should be considered for a national ranking.”

But in order to receive national ranking conversation, the Golden Eagles will have to reduce their turnovers. Duffy’s squad turned over the ball 24 times Monday afternoon, resulting in 28 points for the Bruins.

Senior forward Chloe Marotta finished with a team-high 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a pair of blocks. Marotta earned All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this week.

Senior guard Jordan King also earned All-Tournament Team honors as she averaged 16.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three games.

The first quarter was a low-scoring affair from both sides, with Marquette holding a 6-4 lead heading into the under-five media timeout behind four points from King.

Despite a defensive battle from both sides, as UCLA and Marquette combined to shoot just 29.6% from the field in the quarter, the Golden Eagles led 11-8 after the first 10 minutes.

Senior guard Claire Kaifes began the second quarter with a 3-pointer to extend the Marquette lead to 14-8. Neither team found offensive production until the 1:18 mark of the frame when UCLA senior guard Charisma Osborne scored from the charity stripe to reduce the Bruins’ deficit to 25-21.

The first half ended with the contest tied at 27-27 after King missed a buzzer-beater shot from half-court.

UCLA started the second half with a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Emily Bessoir, kick-starting a 13-8 run to begin the quarter for the Bruins. Out of the timeout, first-year guard Mackenzie Hare sparked a 7-0 extended run for Marquette hitting a 3-pointer. Hare’s 3-pointer was followed up immediately with a layup in n transition from Marotta to tie the game 40-40, forcing a UCLA timeout.

Much like the previous quarter, the fourth began knotted up at 44. With 15.7 remaining in regulation and down two, Marotta got to the basket with the right-handed scoop shot after making a move on a UCLA defender to tie the game at 53-53, forcing the Bruins to call a timeout.

As it has been a theme in the Duffy Era, the Golden Eagles locked in on defense in the final seconds forcing three-straight misses from the Bruins. Marquette held UCLA scoreless in the final 2:15 and 1-for-11 from the field.

Forty-one seconds into overtime, King fouled out. It led to Hare replacing King on the court.

“Kenzie did well overall, there’s nothing more valuable than experience and time on the court,” Duffy said. “When Jordan was on the bench, it was Liza and Chloe who stepped up and made some big shots for us, and we shifted our mindset from our guard play and tried to get, obviously, touches.”

Hare lead all Marquette scorers in overtime with five points but ultimately was unable to help her team overcome turnovers and shooting struggles as UCLA sealed the win on four straight free throws.

“They (UCLA) got a couple quick baskets and I thought we lost a little bit of momentum, though we didn’t totally lose it,” Duffy said. “Possessions changed a little bit and we were relying on a few of our secondary players. They (UCLA) kept hitting the boards.”

The Golden Eagles ended the game with zero steals, while the Bruins had 13.

Marquette finished the game shooting 37.7% from the floor, 29.4% from 3-point range and 76.5% from the free-throw line.

The Golden Eagles (5-1) will now have five days off before their next game when they welcome in Saint Francis Sunday at 2 p.m. CST in the Al McGuire Center.

Despite its performance in the Bahamas, Marotta said the mindset and focus of the team won’t change.

“We’re not all smiles because we got to championship game or we got to overtime,” Marotta said. “We know we can win these games and that we can compete with anyone. That’s the mindset now going into the rest of the season.”

This story was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightMU.