Women’s basketball team shoots self in foot against Orange

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On Dec. 2 Marquette defeated Northwestern, and five days later the Golden Eagles knocked off Kansas to move to 7-2 overall on the season. It was then, more than a month ago, that Marquette last won back-to-back games.

Since then the Golden Eagles are 5-6 and their NCAA Tournament hopes are dwindling away.

"This seems to be a year of lessons," coach Terri Mitchell said. "A year of showing what we need to do."

After defeating Georgetown 80-65 on the road last week, the Golden Eagles had the perfect opportunity to snag two straight victories in the Big East.

However, Syracuse (14-6, 3-4 Big East) played the spoiler Tuesday night at the Al McGuire Center and defeated Marquette 66-55. With the loss, Marquette (12-8, 3-3 Big East) may have shot itself out of postseason contention — literally.

Syracuse jumped out to an 11-1 lead, but a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Tatiyiana McMorris with six seconds left in the first half brought the Golden Eagles within one point. The Orange led 32-31 at halftime, but momentum seemed to be shifting in Marquette's favor.

Au contraire.

After a mediocre 36 percent from 3-point range in the first half (4-of-11), Marquette failed to sink a single shot from behind the arc in the second half, finishing the game 4-of-22 for an abysmal 18 percent.

"In the second half we went 0-of-11 from three and we just needed to get inside," McMorris said. "If we miss outside then the next shot needs to be in the paint."

Senior guard Erin Monfre drained her first two 3-pointers of the night, while McMorris and senior guard Krystal Ellis chipped in one apiece for the struggling Golden Eagles.

However, not everything can be blamed on poor shooting. Credit the stingy defense of the Orange.

"Winning a game here is really stealing one," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "Defensively we played well…we did a good job of getting out on shooters."

We wanted to make sure they took contested (3-pointers). They were 0-of-11 from behind the arc in the second half and that was the difference in the game."

Syracuse, which applied a full-court press for most of the game, caused 17 Marquette turnovers and forced seven steals. They held Marquette's two leading scorers, Ellis and Angel Robinson, to nine and seven points, respectively.

As poorly as the Golden Eagles shot, they hung close for almost the entire game, and led by three points with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game.

But as was the case all game, Syracuse answered everything Marquette threw at it. The clutch 3-point shooting of the Orange was what eventually sealed the Golden Eagles' fate.

With just over six minutes left in regulation, Syracuse junior forward Nicole Michael nailed a 3-pointer to increase the Orange's lead to seven and put a dagger in Marquette.

Michael finished with 18 points, including the first seven of the game.

"(Michael) has been big in Big East play and is really stepping up for us," Hillsman said.

Mitchell said she knows that her team needs to learn from their mistakes and be ready to go for the next game.

"You can't lose your focus in (the Big East) and expect a victory," Mitchell said. "It's difficult to win on the road in the Big East and they just took one from us.

"It happened, we're all disappointed. We'll figure it out and get ready for the next game."