Marquette went up against ACC Goliath Duke Sunday, but couldn’t play the part of David as the Golden Eagles fell 78-61.
Marquette (4-1) knew that No. 2 Duke (5-0) was going to be a test. Marquette hung tough all game, but did not hold on down the stretch. Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said despite the loss, there are long term benefits that come from playing a team like Duke early in the season.
“This is about our team getting better and where we want to be in March,” Mitchell said. “This is why you play Duke in the nonconference … to get stronger and tougher for Big East play and ultimately to play in March.”
The Blue Devils took the lead late in the first half and were able to keep it by exploiting the post and capitalizing on Marquette’s mistakes. Duke’s junior center Elizabeth Williams scored 23 points, two points shy of her career high, the majority of which came in the paint. As a whole, Duke scored 46 of its 78 points inside the paint.
Duke coach Joanne McCallie said her team was able to succeed in the paint because of Williams’ play.
“Elizabeth is a very good player and she’s hard to guard,” McCallie said. “I thought we did a great job, our guards in particular, going through (Williams) and letting things happen there.”
Overall, Duke scored efficiently, but Marquette’s defense posed some problems. The Blue Devils shot exactly 50 percent on the night, a point and a half lower than the team’s season average. Duke’s three-point average was 35.3 percent, nine percent lower than its season average. The team shot just 51.7 percent from the free throw line on the afternoon, a far cry from the 70 percent Duke shoots for the season. Marquette was also able to limit Duke’s leading scorer, senior Tricia Liston, to 13 points, five points lower than her season average.
Still, Duke took advantage of the Golden Eagles’ mistakes. Duke scored 26 points off of 20 Marquette turnovers and went on a crucial 17-2 run toward the end of the first half. That run took place predominately because of fouls and missed shots by Marquette.
Still, the Golden Eagles have many positives to take away from the game.
“We absolutely competed,” Mitchell said. “You can look at statistics and say, ‘Yeah we didn’t shoot well. They shot very well,’ but there wasn’t a possession where I had to tell my team to play hard.”
For the majority of the first half, Marquette hung with the Blue Devils and showed resiliency when down. Duke tried to pull away very early in the first, but a 10-0 run in the middle of the half got the Golden Eagles back in the game. In the second half, Marquette continued to try to chip away at the lead, but the Blue Devils always bounced back.
For the second straight game, senior Katie Young led the Golden Eagles in scoring. Young, coming off a career game against Central Michigan where she scored 28 points, netted 21. Young was money from behind the arc, going 4-for-7, including some at key points in the game. After dealing with foul trouble in the first, senior Katherine Plouffe had 11 points in the second half to come to 17 total, but fell two rebounds short of her fifth consecutive double-double. Mitchell said the play of her seniors, especially Young, has been great in the start of the season.
“Katie’s playing like a senior,” Mitchell said. “She’s playing with a lot of passion.”
Marquette also continued its dominance on the glass. Marquette outrebounded Duke by 10, bringing down 20 offensive rebounds and 25 defensive ones. Mitchell lauded her team’s rebounding abilities.
“We rebounded exceptionally well, being plus 10,” Mitchell said. “We had 20 offensive boards, but we don’t have the points to show for it. That’s one thing we have to grow on.”
The Golden Eagles next head to Las Vegas for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. Marquette faces Tennessee TechFriday at 4:30 p.m., and Utah Saturday at 4:30 p.m.