NCAA women’s tournament: Marquette rolls in rout

AUSTIN, Texas – After watching film of Louisiana-Lafayette, the Marquette coaching staff came away convinced that it could control play in the paint.

Terri Mitchell and her assistants knew about Ragin' Cajuns center Sonora Edwards, but they thought she would be overmatched in size, strength and skill against Christina Quaye and the bevy of Golden Eagle post players.

The scouting report for the first round game in the NCAA women's basketball tournament could not have been more accurate.

Sixth-seeded Marquette rolled to an 87-58 victory against 11th-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette at the Frank Erwin Center behind Quaye's 17 points and a 44-26 scoring advantage in the paint.

With the win, the Golden Eagles advanced to play third-seeded Oklahoma Monday night. The game time has not been set.

"Our offense has to go inside first. We're at our best when we have inside-outside looks," Mitchell said. "Obviously the more touches that Christina gets the better we're going to be, not just because she can look to score but because she's an excellent passer.

"She's not the be-all end-all in the post game. We have other great players in there, but she's proven time and again that she's capable. It was an important game for her to start out right."

Quaye, who wore a protective face mask after injuring her nose in practice Tuesday, opened the game by missing a pair of three-point attempts. She was 7-of-10 from the floor for the remainder of the game and scored on a variety of pretty fakes and up-and-under moves in the low post.

As Mitchell said, though, Marquette had a balanced attack inside. Forwards Marissa Thrower (10 points, five rebounds), Svetlana Kovalenko (seven points, four rebounds) and Kelly Lam (six points, six rebounds) provided solid contributions off the bench.

The rout was also fueled by superior rebounding (Marquette grabbed a 47-34 advantage on the boards) and tenacious defense.

"They did an excellent job of disguising their defenses," Louisiana-Lafayette coach J. Kelley Hall said. "They're playing at a high level right now. Basically they did to us what we've been able to do to a lot of people — and that's make them shoot a low field-goal percentage."

The Ragin' Cajuns entered the game ranked 14th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense by holding opponents to 35.4 percent. Marquette shot 50 percent (31-for-62) against Louisiana-Lafayette's vaunted defense and held the Ragin' Cajuns to a 32.8 shooting percentage (22-for-67) for the game.

Marquette rotated defenses throughout the game. The Louisiana-Lafayette point guard rarely saw the same defense in successive possessions when bringing the ball up the court. Another reason for the Golden Eagles' defensive prowess was their superior height.

"They were an inch or two taller at every position so their arms are just a little bit longer than what we're used to going against," Hall said. "Several of Onna (Charles') shots, I don't know if you could tell or if the people could tell, but they were getting fingers on them."

Marquette got credit with only one blocked shot, but the team's length prevented the Ragin' Cajuns from ever executing on offense like they wanted to.

"In practice we really talked about having high hands, making them not be able to see inside," said sophomore guard Krystal Ellis, who tied Quaye for a team high with 17 points. "Mostly they like to get an inside-outside game. So that was one of the biggest parts, keeping our high hands and taking away passing lanes."

Both teams wanted to play an inside-outside game. Marquette was the only one able to pull it off.