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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Women’s basketball advances to Big East semifinals with 50-48 win over Villanova

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Revenge is sweet. Especially in March.

The sounds of Ring out Ahoya – Marquette’s fight song – surged through the Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday afternoon as No. 5 seed Marquette women’s basketball pushed past No. 4 Villanova, 50-48.

The Golden Eagles had come close before, falling both 66-63 and 55-52 to Wildcats in the regular season after going cold offensively down the stretch in both losses.

And Saturday unfolded the exact same as the previous two matchups; except for the ending.

With five seconds left in the fourth quarter, Villanova took a timeout to figure out how to come out either on top or bring the game to a tie as it was down only two points.

Coming out of it, the Wildcats handed the ball off to junior guard Lucy Olsen — who ended with 22 points on the game — as she drove up to right underneath the basket. Olsen took the shot to tie the game but it was no good as senior guards Jordan King and Rose Nkumu were able to box her out, resulting in a 50-48 Golden Eagles win.

“I think everyone on the court knew what Villanova was going to do in terms of who they were going to go to,” senior forward Liza Karlen said. “You just hope that your teammates are on their game and they [King and Nkumu] did and they pulled through.”

This intense victory will mark Marquette’s eighth straight Big East Tournament semifinal appearance.

“I felt the true definition of March Madness,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “We were so hungry to try and figure out how to beat them [Villanova]. I can’t tell you how proud I am of my team and their grit.”

Ping-pong game

Villanova junior guard Lucy Olsen started the game off on a 4-0 personal run before Marquette was able to respond. She then went on to have all of the team’s six points before another Wildcat hit the board.

Similarly, King and Karlen had a combined 80% of Marquette’s first quarter points until first-year forward Skylar Forbes stepped back and nailed a jumper with 34 seconds to go. Forbes finished with 12 points on 3-for-4 shooting. 

“Skylar Forbes has worked so hard this whole year to get to the point where she is at right now and I’m super proud to have her as a teammate this year,” Karlen said.

Heading into the third frame, Marquette took it into their own hands and  capitalized on the Wildcat’s 4:30 scoring drought. The Golden Eagles pieced together on a 9-0 run solidifying a 37-31 lead heading into the final frame, but their momentum slipped away from them for a moment.

Villanova opened the floodgates and responded to their lead with an 8-0 run of their own leaving Marquette to crawl back point-by-point taking their shots at the free throw line.

Buckets were missed and made, scores were tied and the game was back to 0-0 but in the end, it came down to those last few seconds.

Defensive pressure

Marquette did a lot to try and force Villanova to shoot from behind the arc and keep them out of the paint.

The Wildcats have been averaging shooting 29% this season averaging six 3-pointers per game to be scored from downtown. After going 0-for-9 in the first half, Olsen was able to end with the two 3’s the team made in the second half.

The Wildcats shot 13.3% going 2 for 15 while the Golden Eagles shot 40% making it an inside the paint game for both teams.

Head coach Denise Dillon said that moving the ball and keeping spacing is key to their gameplay. Villanova had to focus on their jumper game as they tried to find the easiest way to alleviate the pressure faced.

“Nothing is wrong with the mid-range game,” Dillon said. “You can’t live and die at the 3-point line because I think more often than not, you’ll die.”

Up Next

It’s deja vu for the Golden Eagles as they face No. 1 UConn in tomorrow’s Big East semi-final game. Last year, the Huskies were able to end with a dominating 81-52 win, but it’s all in the past.

“It’s a whole different team and season,” Duffy said. “We have to remind our team what makes good basketball and it’s taking care of the ball.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CST and the game will be streamed on FS1.

This story was written by Raquel Ruiz. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @RaquelRuizMU.

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About the Contributor
Raquel Ruiz
Raquel Ruiz, Sports Reporter
Raquel Ruiz is a first-year student from Mundelein, Illinois studying digital media and is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in her local community, spending time with friends and family and binge-watching tv shows. She is excited to learn from different people and explore what it is like to be a journalist in the media field.

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