PARADISE ISLAND – Marquette's players mobbed each other at midcourt after the horn had sounded on a huge victory for their program. Then they made their way behind their bench and into the stands, marching up the rows of green seats to hug fans, friends and family in an extended celebration.
Taking down a top-3 team for the first time in program history deserved a little extra.
Jordan King scored 17 of her 25 points after halftime while Marquette held third-ranked Texas to 31% shooting, beating the Longhorns 68-61 in Saturday's first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
It marked the highest-ranked opponent the Golden Eagles have beaten in program history, while also taking the second women's tournament here at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas off its expected course.
“I thought we played smart, tough and unified for 40 minutes,” coach Megan Duffy said. “Even despite some up-and-down moments, they hung together and just an incredible win for our program.”
The Golden Eagles (4-0) led this one by 13 in the third quarter, then held on when the Longhorns (1-2) made a push back in the game. Texas twice managed to get within a single point, only to see the 5-foot-11 King respond each time to keep her team in control.
She opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup after the Longhorns had gotten to within 42-41, then came through with a jumper and a pair of free throws when the Longhorns climbed again to within a single point at 47-46.
She also made 6 of 7 free throws after halftime, including four in the final two minutes as Texas repeatedly tried to take the lead.
Sonya Morris scored 13 points to lead Texas, which again played without star Rori Harmon due to an injury that has left her with a day-to-day status. Texas also had
It was a performance that left coach Vic Schaefer lamenting the toughness of his team.
“I think we got out-toughed today. It's getting to be a little bit of a concern for me,” Schaefer said, while saying he didn't do enough to have his team ready at the opening tip.
Marquette: The program had never beaten a team ranked higher than No. 4 in The Associated Press women's college basketball poll, most recently against Notre Dame in January 2009. Duffy's team now has a new milestone with a headline-grabbing win.
Texas: This marked a second straight loss for the Longhorns going back to Monday's loss at No. 5 Connecticut. It also marked the first time an AP Top 5 team had lost twice in the first three games in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Marquette’s Liza Karlen snagged the final rebound and held the ball as the clock expired, then hugged teammates on the court as the players on the bench ran out to midcourt to join them.
Moments later, that celebration had migrated into the stands.
“Being able to share that moment, lots of smiles and hugs — was awesome,” King said.
Soon, as Duffy joined her team coming off the court and headed to the locker room, she ran into Louisville coach Jeff Walz — whose sixth-ranked Cardinals were waiting to take the court for the next game — and shared a congratulatory handshake.
Schaefer's complaints included that his team was showing an “unwillingness” to play together, as well as a frustration that he "can't get people to run the play I want them to run.”
“I think anytime young people, you read your press clippings — there's a lot of people out there across the country that think highly of this team,” Schaefer said. “But this team hasn't done anything.”
Marquette: The Golden Eagles advanced to Sunday's semifinals to face Gonzaga which knocked off No. 6 Louisville in OT.
Texas: The Longhorns will face Louisville in Sunday's consolation bracket.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25