Big second quarter lifts Marquette over Wisconsin

Roichelle Marble and the Wisconsin Badgers' guards struggled to defend Marquette's backcourt in a  blowout loss Monday.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Milwaukee — “We are, Marquette! We are, Marquette!” roared from a ruckus and jubilant Golden Eagle fan base in the waning minutes of Marquette’s (4-3) 88-65 shellacking of the Wisconsin Badgers (5-4). From the outset, the Golden Eagle faithful created a home-court advantage at the Al McGuire Center that eventually would translate to their players as the game progressed. The atmosphere coupled with Marquette's stellar offense and stout defense would prove to be too much of a challenge.

From the outset, Wisconsin scratched and crawled through a taxing first quarter and kept the game close. However, as the game progressed into the second quarter, it seemed as if the crowd fed off the Golden Eagles defense and helped Maquette pull away.

MU full pressured the Badgers for the entirety of the quarter stifling UW and caused its offense to turn the ball over seven times in the second quarter alone, which the Golden Eagles turned into 16 points.

“Our goal coming into any game has always been to make sure that the starting point guard is miserable,” Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said. "So that they don’t know what defense we are going to be in.”

Kieger believed that by making the Badger point guards miserable in the first half, her team was able to thrive as the Golden Eagles had 13 first-half steals and 22 points of turnovers in the first half.

By the end of the second quarter, Marquette had utilized the pressure and outscored the Badgers 34-12 in the second 10 minutes to take a 52-24 lead into the locker room. The Golden Eagles, in the first half, were led by hot shooting junior guard Natisha Hiedeman as she hit 7-of-12 field goals on her way to 19 first-half points.

The Badgers, however, would not go down without a fight as it seemed that they had made the necessary halftime adjustments to comeback as they jumped out to a 9-4 run in the first two minutes of the third quarter. However, Marquette would respond by outscoring the Badgers for the rest of the third quarter 21-to-10 to extend its lead to 34 points going into the final quarter.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around the writing was on the wall as Marquette subbed all of its starters with five minutes remaining and allowed its bench to close the game out.

The most notable difference between the two sides was the play of the guards for Marquette as they showcased elite athleticism throughout the game. All night long it seemed that the Marquette guards were able to dictate whatever they wanted. Marquette guards King, Hiedeman, Wilborn and Blockton accounted for 58 of Marquette’s 88 points on the night. UW struggled in its transition defense due to turnovers and struggled switching on the perimeter often times allowing uncontested layups in both scenarios.

The two bright spots on the night for the Badgers were that although freshman guard Niya Beverley struggled initially in the first half, she ended up scoring a new career-high 14 points. The other bright spot was that sophomore forward Abby Laszewski was still able to put up 12 points even though she was pestered throughout the half.

Wisconsin will have to remove this game from its memories, as it will only have Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday night's game against Texas Rio Grande Valley (8-2).

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