The Marquette women’s basketball team was able to give thanks Thursday after squeaking out a 69-66 victory over Cleveland State in its opener in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.
But the Golden Eagles failed to carry that momentum into the final, losing to No. 10/12 Duke 74-43 the next day.
“Duke was big,” assistant coach Michelle Nason said. “We went from chasing people all over the place to packing it in the paint and defending against high-low. It was two different levels of play. It’s difficult when preparing for one game and then the next night playing completely different.”
Against Cleveland State, senior Janelle Harris led the team in points with 13 and had eight rebounds. Sophomore Jessica Pachko scored 12, while junior Courtney Weibel registered 11.
“I think we played well in the first game as a team,” Harris said. “We had a lot of bumps and bruises to get over in that first game. We had a lot of turnovers, but the experience definitely brought our team closer together.”
Senior Angel Robinson was benched after suffering an ankle injury in the first half and did not return to the game.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Vikings tied up the score at 57, but a 9-1 run by the Golden Eagles put the game out of reach for Cleveland State. However, it was a different story against Duke as Marquette shot 25 percent from the floor and failed to shut down Jasmine Thomas, who finished the game with a triple-double for the Blue Devils.
“Against Duke we had to be a lot more physical,” Marquette senior Lauren Thomas-Johnson said. “We had not met a team that physical yet. We need to be a lot more aggressive … we have to go up strong and finish.”
Against the Blue Devils, only Thomas-Johnson managed to score in double digits for the Golden Eagles with 13 points, while Pachko picked up 10 rebounds.
“My first game I thought I shot the ball well,” said Thomas-Johnson. “The second game not so much.”
Duke opened up the second half with a 6-0 run, which was interrupted by a Paige Fiedorowicz jumper. However, the Blue Devils then followed up with another 6-0 run on the Golden Eagles.
“We had (Duke) really frustrated,” Nason said. “We had all kinds of shots but we couldn’t knock them down … we did a really nice job defensively but we couldn’t get it clicking on the offensive end. When we came back out after half-time we thought we were settled a little bit and we could make the shots but it just didn’t happen … that was the difference.”
With less than nine minutes remaining, the Golden Eagles could only come within 17 points of Duke. Harris said the Golden Eagles aren’t exactly in the shape they thought they were in, and will focus on working on their transition defense.
“We kind of fell short in the second game but we learned and this week we learned from our mistakes so that we will play better in our game on Thursday,” Harris said.