Despite Katherine Plouffe being held scoreless Saturday against Connecticut, the coaching staff had little doubt the junior forward would redeem herself immediately.
Plouffe’s double-double proved crucial as the Golden Eagles picked up a 56-53 win at Seton Hall Tuesday night.
Plouffe scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Arlesia Morse also tallied 13 points as Marquette notched its first Big East victory of the season.
“In the game of basketball, you have nights where you can’t buy a bucket,” associate head coach Michelle Nason said. “The good thing about Katherine is she has a short memory. You watch film, learn lessons and move on. Seton Hall didn’t have a post player who could match her.”
Despite Plouffe’s bounce-back outing, Marquette (1-2 Big East) never had a comfortable lead. The Golden Eagles’ biggest advantage was a 41-32 lead midway through the second half, while Seton Hall’s was a 14-9 lead early in the game.
Morse made critical shots down the stretch to seal the win. Tied at 51 with under two minutes to play, the sophomore drove in for a layup to give the Golden Eagles the lead. After a Pirates turnover, Morse was fouled and made both free throws. Connecting on one more free throw the next trip down the floor gave the team a five-point cushion.
Nason and the coaching staff were focused on limiting Seton Hall’s backcourt. The Pirates used a three-guard starting lineup, with those three combining for 45 of the team’s 53 points. The Golden Eagles were able to stave off the Seton Hall backcourt’s 46 percent shooting with a more balanced attack.
“We knew we could really focus on their guard play,” Nason said. “We did a pretty nice job of shutting them down. They really have only two guards who can score 20 points (a game). Everyone else is hit or miss. We went in and we really focused on those guards and we dared everyone else to score on us.”
Seton Hall has struggled on the offensive end; the Pirates have scored 70 or more points just once in 17 games this season. Freshman guard Brooklyn Pumroy, who netted 10 points, knew that making stops would be key to a win.
“Going into it, we knew this was a game we were going to have to play very well in,” Pumroy said. “We knew that their outside shots weren’t as good as the past teams’ we’ve played (shots), so we put in some of our zone defense.”
Turnovers still plague the Golden Eagles. Marquette turned the ball over 27 times, but fortunately its miscues resulted in only 13 Seton Hall points. Pumroy wants the team to limit its errors in future games, especially since the coaching staff has started to take the consequences of this a step further.
“They’ve been giving us punishments for turning the ball over during practice, and that’s starting to help us out a little bit more,” Pumroy said. “We’re trying to set goals for ourselves.”
The team can exhale in relief after pocketing the elusive first conference victory, and it now heads back on the road to play a struggling Pittsburgh squad. The Panthers didn’t win a Big East game last season and were picked to finish tied for 13th in the conference in the preseason.
“It felt good to know we finally pulled out a win,” Pumroy said. “We should have done better. We can always do better. We had a few slip-ups that kind of caught us. I mean, it definitely felt good to win that game to start us off. Hopefully we hold on to that and find a niche.”