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In a weekend jam-packed with strong performances and memorable plays for the Marquette women's basketball program, one of the more impressive moments came in the Sunday post-game press conference.

After the Golden Eagles defeated Louisville 72-58 at the Al McGuire Center, Cardinals head coach Tom Collen sat down behind the table and began praising his opponent before any questions were asked.

"I think right now Marquette might be, besides DePaul, the hottest team in the league," said Collen, who is in his first year coaching at Louisville after guiding Colorado State to a 129-33 record over five seasons.

"They need to start getting some attention for our conference on the national scene. I think they're a legitimate threat to challenge for the conference championship and move in the post-season."

Those are quite flattering remarks for a team that was picked to finish eighth in the preseason Conference-USA coaches poll.

At the same time it's hard to argue with Collen after the Golden Eagles beat Cincinnati 62-54 on Friday and the Cardinals two days later (both teams were predicted to finish higher than Marquette) to improve to 12-3 on the season, and 2-0 in the conference.

The early league success at home can be attributed to a number of factors.

One was the play of the freshmen: Danielle Kamm and Christina Quaye started both games over the weekend for the Golden Eagles. On Sunday, Kamm scored a season-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Quaye didn't have the best line in the box score after the Louisville game, yet her coach was still pleased with her play.

Quaye "ended up getting in some foul trouble and played, I thought, great the second half," head coach Terri Mitchell said. "She was banging. But sometimes the physical banging doesn't show up statistically, but over the course of the game that can wear other players down."

Another factor was solid defense. In the first half of Friday's game, Marquette held the Bearcats to 8-for-29 shooting from the floor, including 2-for-15 from behind the arc. The tight defense propelled the Golden Eagles to a 31-22 lead at halftime.

The team defense against Louisville wasn't as stellar at the start. The Cardinals led 22-16 with 7:26 to play in the first half before Marquette

adjusted to Louisville's transition game and ability to penetrate.

"Everything that we do we're going to focus on defense first and then the offense is going to come." Mitchell said. "So as soon as we cleared that up — getting back, and really containing on penetration, keeping them out of the paint — then the game started to shift."

Offense was crucial as well. The key to Marquette's success at the offensive end of the court against Louisville was its flexibility.

The Golden Eagles tend to rely heavily on their three point shooters for scoring so Cincinnati made a concentrated effort to shut them down. This opened the door for penetration and Marquette took advantage of it to build a 12-point lead by the half.

Equally important is the team's attitude about carrying the offensive load.

"We have a lot of options and no one cares who scores," senior Kelly Schwerman said. "I think that's the biggest thing. Katie (O'Grady) could have 30 (points) one night and 10 the next and she'd be so happy for the next person who scores 30. No one cares who's putting the points up."

Lastly, O'Grady's play secured the wins. She didn't score 30 against Louisville, but the team's offensive spark plug off the bench led her team with 15 points. She was at her best in the first half when she scored 10 points in 12 minutes, including the team's only three-pointer in the first 20 minutes on a nice assist from Crystal Weaver.

The play of O'Grady, Kamm, Quaye, and their ten teammates made it easy for the 1,221 in attendance and those watching the game on to the C-USA Television Network to agree with Collen's comments. It won't be until the national polls are released Tuesday night until Marquette finds out if others agree with the Louisville coach.

-www.gomarquette.com contributed to this story.