Team calms after rough start to beat Red Flash

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WBballIt took a while for the Marquette women’s basketball team to shake off its first-game nerves, but the team was victorious in the end. The Golden Eagles held St. Francis to just 38 points on Saturday, which was the lowest since holding Toledo to 28 five seasons ago.

However, early play did not suggest Marquette would finish with the eventual scoreline of 74-38 in its season opener, and coach Terri Mitchell recognized a need for improvement.

“I was not pleased with our turnovers but our defense was outstanding,” Mitchell said. “But that’s my focus. You win games because of your defense and even if your offense isn’t there you’re still going to be fine. But we scored in the seventies and we could have scored a lot more if we had taken care of the ball.”

Senior Lauren Thomas-Johnson led the team in points and offensive rebounds with 14 and three, respectively. She thought her performance could have been better, but was thankful her first game is behind her.

“Once we got all of (our jitters) out I thought we played great,” she said. “The defense was great. … I think overall we played really well.”

Marquette failed to score in the first three minutes of the game. But after freshman Sarina Simmons put the Golden Eagles in the lead eight minutes in, there was no looking back for Mitchell’s team.

“I think it was just that first five minutes,” Thomas-Johnson said. “We just had to relax. We had to see what they were giving us, because we knew they would play us in zone.”

A 9-0 run in the first half and a 14-0 run in the second put the game out of reach for the Red Storm, which was key since St. Francis had more steals and more forced turnovers than the Golden Eagles.

Thomas-Johnson said Marquette had been waiting a long time for this game but now it’s time to move on.

“Everybody was just so anxious because we have been working out since April,” she said. “Everybody was so anxious to get to this game, and now that we’re done with this game it’s just up from here.”

Angel Robinson, who racked up a team-leading nine rebounds, four steals and five assists was also pleased with the team’s performance but thought there should have been more focus on the smaller aspects.

“We didn’t really excel in the smaller plays like diving on the floor,” Robinson said. “(St. Francis) was getting a lot of loose balls, and we really encourage in practice that we need to do the smaller stuff, but we didn’t really do that today. We just need to work on that for the next game.”

Mitchell was impressed with St. Francis’ skill and thought it provided just the kind of test Marquette needed to open the season.

“There’s always going to be things that we need to work on coming out of the gate,” she said. “But for our first game, I thought the opponent was great quality, and I thought our players were very intense. I don’t look at the score line, I looked at how we played.”

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