Ellis instrumental in victory over Northwestern

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After about a minute of review, the referee signaled no basket and the Golden Eagles (6-2) celebrated a much-needed, come-from-behind victory over the Wildcats.,”Women's basketball coach Terri Mitchell and her team impatiently awaited the word from the referee on whether a desperation 3-pointer by Northwestern's Erin Dickerson was drained before or after the final buzzer.

After about a minute of review, the referee signaled no basket and the Golden Eagles (6-2) celebrated a much-needed, come-from-behind victory over the Wildcats.

"I'm thrilled," Mitchell said. "This was a total gut check,"

Despite trailing by 14 points at halftime, the Golden Eagles relentlessly climbed their way back into the game and were able to squeak out a 55-54 victory Tuesday night in Evanston, Ill.

It appears that Mitchell's squad learned a few lessons from two heartbreaking losses last weekend in the WBCA Classic. After surrendering a 14-point lead to Virginia and a 17-point lead to Utah in consecutive games, the Golden Eagles have now proved they too can come from behind to win.

"Just like we lost, we turned that into a lesson," Mitchell said. "We talked about it at halftime, and nobody was worried.

"That's a big step forward for us today. I'm excited about the heart of this team."

Senior guard Krystal Ellis, who finished with 18 points, including the team's final nine, made 1-of-2 free throws with 13 seconds remaining to ice the game. Northwestern (2-5) was unable to get a shot off, and time expired just before Dickerson's long-range shot swished through the basket.

In a tale of two halves, the Golden Eagles outscored the Wildcats 35-20 in the second half and shot 42 percent compared to Northwestern's abysmal 26 percent.

"We had to go out there and find a way to score," Ellis said. "We realized what we wanted and didn't get it until the last 15 seconds, but it shows we're never out of a game."

The Golden Eagles, now a perfect 3-0 on the road, have benefited greatly from Ellis' ability to take over a game during crunch time. She has scored 80 of her 130 points this season in the second half and gives Marquette that go-to player many teams dream of.

"I didn't even notice I had the last points, but everything just came together at the end," Ellis said about her performance Tuesday. "We wanted to win. You could see it in everyone's eyes."

Ellis, who averages 27 minutes per game, has started to live up to her preseason All Big East honors. She has averaged 21 points in her last three games and leads the Golden Eagles with 16.3 points per game.

Senior guard Erin Monfre has also seen increased minutes because of the pressure she applies on the defensive end.

Monfre tallied six points and four rebounds for the Golden Eagles against Northwestern, but it was her defense that made the difference in the end.

"Terri (Mitchell) needed someone to step up," Monfre said. She gave me the opportunity to start and contribute and be a senior leader and step up.

"We knew we could win, and it was about heart and who wanted it more," Monfre said.

With six games remaining until conference play begins, Monfre believes that comeback wins, such as the one against Northwestern, will benefit the team if it plans to be successful this year.

"This gives us a boost before we face Kansas, and we needed it after two losses," she said. "It will be a confidence booster, and it was a game that we knew we needed."