Eagles collect Demon payback

The first time the Marquette women's basketball team played DePaul this season, the Blue Demons pulled out a 61-59 victory in Chicago, thanks to the heroics of Charlene Smith.

With only a few ticks left on the clock, the junior forward drove to the left side of the lane and banked a five-foot shot off the glass for the winning

basket.

Smith had a chance to repeat history Sunday at the Al McGuire Center, but this time the Golden Eagles were prepared for the drive.

With her team trailing by a point, Smith drove to the left side of the lane, collided with Marquette freshman forward Christina Quaye and fired a close-range jumper that banked off the glass and fell through with 0.4 seconds to play.

One referee counted the basket; however, the call was overruled, giving Smith an offensive foul, Marquette (19-8, 9-5) a 62-61 victory over DePaul (22-5, 10-4) before 3,165 people and the team's fans a reason to rush onto the court.

"If you guys only knew how many times we've practiced that same play defensively over and over again," head coach Terri Mitchell said. "Because

for those of you that were at (the game against) DePaul (in Chicago) know that when the game was tied Charlene took that same drive and we have gone over and over and over (it). That's growth — that was three weeks ago, that's growth.

"It's knowing that the drive was coming and anticipating. They're putting the ball in the hands of the best (player) — but that's how the game ended, and that's the last thing we said in the timeout — 'Remember how it ended last time. Charlene's going to make something happen.' We were ready for it."

Smith wasn't anticipating the call; she thought she'd won the game for DePaul, the No. 20 ranked team in the Associated Press poll.

"I thought it was good and I don't know, I just don't think the call should have been made at that point in the game," Smith said.

Smith, who had a game-high 19 points and played all 40 minutes, also objected to the referee's perceived timing of the collision. By NCAA rules a charge can only be called if the contact is made before the offensive player takes a shot.

She remembers hitting Quaye after the ball left her hand.

Quaye, who finished with eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes, wasn't about to question the call.

"I just took the charge," she said. "I wasn't supposed to be there and so I went over and took it and as soon as I hit the floor I got up, but I just wanted to know if they counted the basket or if they called the charge. They called the charge and so I felt like I was there."

That play had a huge impact for the Golden Eagles, who led 39-23 at halftime, on a variety of levels.

For one, it means the team's three seniors — Katie O'Grady, Crystal Weaver and Kelly Schwerman — won the final regular season game of their collegiate

careers.

O'Grady finished with four points, two steals and an assist; Weaver recorded 10 points and seven rebounds; and Schwerman contributed nine points, five assists and the game-winning shot.

With 14 seconds to play and the score tied, 61-61, DePaul's Jenni Dant fouled Schwerman behind the 3-point arc. It was Dant's fifth personal foul and DePaul's 10th team foul, so Schwerman went to line to shoot two.

After a Blue Demon timeout, Schwerman made her first free throw. She missed her second attempt but that didn't have an impact on the outcome of the game.

"I always just think to myself to use my legs," Schwerman said. "I try to think the same thing every time. Actually when they called a timeout I thought

back to other games when I had to hit pressure free throws so I was trying to think of those times. I would like to have two but I'll take one."

One of the shots she recalled was a free throw against Iowa that momentarily gave Marquette the lead in the second round of the Woman's National

Invitational Tournament last season.

This year the Golden Eagles hope they don't find themselves in the WNIT again; they'd much rather land a bid to the NCAA tournament.

The odds of that happening get much better if they play well at the Conference USA tournament which gets underway Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Marquette, which secured the No. 5 seed in the tournament with Sunday's victory, faces No. 12 seed Tulane at 3 p.m. A victory against the Green

Wave, who lost at Marquette, 69-55, on Jan. 23, would give the Golden Eagles 20 victories on the season.

"I think 20 plus (wins) is special," Mitchell said when asked about her team being selected to play in the NCAA tournament. "We desperately want 20; I think a lot of people always look at that, not that you're guaranteed, but I think … there is more (validity) to 20 plus than under 20."

A win Thursday would also mean a rematch against DePaul the next day.