With 48 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game against Xavier, junior guard Arlesia Morse caught a pass down the right side of the court, pulled up and drilled a three-pointer.
Her shot gave the women’s basketball team a three-point lead against Xavier with 48 seconds left, and Marquette held off the Musketeers for a 73-67 victory. The win was Marquette’s third straight Big East road victory.
Marquette (12-3, 3-1) had trouble closing out Xavier, as the team led by as many as 12 points with just over 10 minutes left in the game. The Musketeers chipped away at the lead during the final stretch, with key three-pointers from senior Shatyra Hawkes and sophomore Jenna Crittendon to eventually tie the game at 65. But when it mattered most, the Marquette defense stood tall.
Coach Terri Mitchell told GoMarquette.com the defense may have bent, but it never broke.
“We had a big defensive stop at the end,” Mitchell said. “We know it’s very difficult to win on the road and I’m just proud of the effort.”
The Golden Eagles found themselves down early in the first half, trailing Xavier 24-19 with six minutes left before halftime. But then Marquette went on a tear, closing out the opening frame on a 16-2 run. Senior forward Katherine Plouffe scored five points in the stretch, while Morse added four of her own.
Plouffe ended up leading all Marquette scorers with 23 points and fell one rebound short of recording another double-double. Morse chipped in 17 points and shot 88 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Brooklyn Pumroy was Marquette’s others double-digit scorer, scoring 14 points while shooting 3-for-4 from behind the arc.
Mitchell said Morse has become a staple of Marquette’s offense.
“Arlesia Morse continues to be that spark plug off the bench for us,” Mitchell said. “We love how she ignites the team. I thought she made a huge difference.”
Overall, Marquette had a solid shooting day. The Golden Eagles shot 67 percent from the field in the first half and finished the day 31-for-55, good for a 56.4 shooting percentage. Marquette also shot four-for-nine from behind the arc for 44 percent. Both of those are above the team’s season average.
Rebounding continued to be a strong point for Marquette, as the Golden Eagles outrebounded Xavier 36-22. Ten offensive rebounds helped Marquette get to 38 points in the paint and 26 defensive rebounds kept the Musketeer offense at bay.
Mitchell said rebounding allowed the offense to be so successful.
“I keep going back to our rebounding, which is always going to set the tone,” Mitchell said. “We did a terrific job, 36 to 22, on the boards, and we shot the ball extremely well. We got the ball into the right hands of people at the right time.”
Marquette will welcome St. John’s to the Al McGuire Center Saturday, Jan. 18, the first home game for the Golden Eagles since Dec. 31. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.