Marquette women’s basketball (11-10, 3-5) held off a late surge by DePaul (16-6, 5-3) Saturday night and defeated the Blue Demons, 70-66.
The four-point victory snapped a three game losing streak for the Golden Eagles and DePaul’s three-game winning streak.
Coach Terri Mitchell saw a difference between the team’s most recent opponents and DePaul.
“I’m just proud of our players,” Mitchell said. “Finishing a game, playing from beginning to end, with the kind of effort they gave … there’s a difference between playing not to lose and playing to win. And this team played to win.”
Sophomore Arlesia Morse led the Golden Eagles’ attack, scoring 24 points on the night, one short of her career high. Morse found her groove, especially late in the game. She drilled a three-pointer to give Marquette a six-point lead with 3:14 left in the game and forced DePaul to call a timeout. Following the timeout, Morse took the ball the other way and made a layup to give Marquette an eight-point lead. That lead would prove enough cushion for Marquette to win.
“When you play a team that’s your rival, nothing’s going to stop you from losing, and that’s how I felt tonight,” Morse said. “Any way possible, I was going to prevent that loss.”
Mitchell credited Morse’s leadership to her near career night.
“She would not be denied,” Mitchell said. “She just knew it was her night; she knew she was going to lead this team.”
Following a game in which Marquette only shot 1-for-8 on free throws in the second half, the team improved to 18-for-23 on the night, including being perfect in the first half. The Golden Eagles were fouled 14 times in the second half alone, allowing them to grab 24 points from the charity stripe.
Junior Katherine Plouffe and Mitchell said free-throws were one of the big keys to the win.
“We did a good job, especially with the pressure, knocking them down,” said Plouffe said. “I’m just proud of our team.”
“To be able to step up to the line and make those shots … being able to knock them down is really important,” Mitchell said. “We had a few misses that made it interesting, but we fought.”
The Golden Eagles had their hands full defensively against the Blue Demons, as Brittany Hrynko had a career game. Averaging 15.7 points coming into the tilt, Hrynko scored 35 points, over half of her team’s total points. The Golden Eagles made sure to protect the paint, but Hrynko could not miss from the three-point line.
“Brittany did a heck of a job for her team,” Mitchell said of Hrynko. “She was willing them to win, playing 40 minutes and scoring 35 points.”
The Golden Eagles will carry the momentum into Connecticut to face the No. 3 team in the nation. Marquette is hoping to avenge its 85-51 loss on Jan. 12.
Mitchell is looking forward to the challenge of playing at Connecticut.
“We know we’re going into the house of one of the best teams in the nation,” Mitchell said. “But I’m glad we’re going into it with a win than going in with a loss.”