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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette’s lack of defense leads to loss against UConn in Big East semifinals

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(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Foul trouble and lack of defense proved to be an opponent that Marquette could not overcome Sunday afternoon.

The Golden Eagles were overwhelmed by the Huskies as they fell 81-52 at Mohegan Sun Arena in the Big East Tournament semifinals for the second straight year.

“I felt like that was the UConn of March that we’re used to seeing,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished this season through a lot of ups and downs. A very disappointed locker room for my team, but hopefully we’ll be seeing you guys in a couple weeks.”

UConn will face No. 2 seed Villanova in Monday night’s championship game, a rematch of last year’s title game.

Statistical Leaders:

Junior forward Liza Karlen spearheaded Marquette’s offense, as she recorded 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting.

“She (Karlen) got off to a great start just playing some great basketball,” Duffy said. “She had a heck of an injury this year. Now, she’s getting her legs under her, steady with her shooting. Just really happy for that kid to find some positive basketball here late in the season.”

First-year guard Mackenzie Hare added 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior duo Jordan King and Chloe Marotta were held to seven points on 3-of-24 shooting from the field.

Sophomore forward Aaliyah Edwards netted 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for UConn, marking her 13th double-double of the season. Graduate student forward Dorka Juhász tacked on 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

“Can’t say enough about Aaliyah Edwards,” Duffy said. “She’s one of the most improved players in the entire country. She’s an All-American in my eyes and she really set the tone with her toughness and physicality.”

Junior guard Nika Mühl tied a UConn record-high in assists in a Big East tournament game with 10.

“I’ve really enjoyed this year with Nika,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I hope we have a long run in the NCAA tournament because she’s a feisty kid who never wants to stop fighting. She never wants to stop competing.”

Huskies’ Hot Offense

UConn’s offense did not waste time heading into this matchup.

The Huskies quickly went on a 7-0 run to start the game with contributions from graduate student Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Juhász and Edwards. UConn forced early turnovers that made the score to 9-2 forcing Duffy to call an early timeout.

Although Marquette cut its deficit to five points within the second quarter, UConn pushed the dial further and went on several more runs to finish out the half.

“Our defense was not up to our standards, but a lot of that was what UConn did,” Duffy said. “We made a nice little run in the second quarter and I thought the momentum was turning a little bit, but that’s what we’re seeing now. Their depth in 10 available people is very different than it was a month ago.”

The Huskies went into the locker room leading by 15 points and shot 46.9% from the field in the half.

Turnovers and foul trouble galore

Along with the Huskies’ hot offense, their defense caused problems for the Golden Eagles.

Karlen and Marotta got in foul trouble early in the game, which caused Marquette’s offense to suffer.

With Karlen and Marotta on the bench, Duffy was forced to lean on her bench and the lack of experience in it did not help change the outcome of the game.

“You can’t put it on freshmen to bail us out of the game like this,” Duffy said. “Give UConn a lot of credit (with) their big bodies, their physicality. Some of our cuts and movement, we just couldn’t do anything. Forced us to take some difficult shots and we got rattled.”

UConn scored 16 points off of Marquette’s 17 turnovers on the afternoon.

“Every screen, every cut, every pass is contested,” Auriemma said. “You have to force turnovers. You have to play great defense and you have to control the boards. All our offense came almost directly off what we were doing defensively.”

Sufferable second half

UConn began the second half with a 6-0 run and Marquette couldn’t find a way to battle back.

In the third quarter alone, the Huskies outscored the Golden Eagles 24-14. Marquette shot 28.5% from the field while UConn continued to thrive shooting 55.5%.

The Huskies got out to their largest lead of the day at 33 when sophomore guard Azzi Fudd made a jumper from the top of the key at the 3:34 mark, making the score 76-43.

Every UConn player but one scored and all five starters scored in double digits. Meanwhile, King, Marquette’s leading scorer, was held to just five points.

UConn outscored Marquette in every quarter of this contest as it shot 49% from the field. The Huskies also outscored the Golden Eagles 48-8 inside the paint as well.

Next up:

Marquette now look ahead to see if it will hear its name called March 12 in the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. CST on ESPN.

The Golden Eagles currently are projected as a No. 10 seed in ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme’s latest bracket projection.

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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