Golden Eagles in search of first road victory

Freshman forward Sarina Simmons scored a career-high 17 points against NJIT.

The Marquette women’s basketball team failed to pick up a victory in their one and only away game this season. The Golden Eagles put on a lackluster display against Michigan in a 67-50 loss on Nov. 16. However, Marquette will look to find its first away victory when it takes on Illinois in Champaign-Urbana Wednesday night.

“(Illinois) plays incredible defense,” coach Terri Mitchell said. “We have to be able to protect the paint and we have to be able to handle the pressure. You always have a disadvantage on the road so it doesn’t change if they haven’t won or haven’t lost — you have to bring something extra on the road.”

But Mitchell was quick to separate the Michigan game from the upcoming game against the Illini.

“That was our second game of the season and this is the eighth game of the season. Hopefully we’ve grown since then,” Mitchell said. “Our approach hasn’t changed, we just didn’t get it done against Michigan and we’re a little bit more mature and we understand each other a little more and hopefully that will equate to a better game.”

The Golden Eagles should be in good form after their 81-41 drumming of the New Jersey Institute of Technology last Thursday. Freshman Sarina Simmons had a career-high 17 points while junior Paige Fiedorowicz led the team with 19 points. Jessica Pachko, who managed 13 points of her own against NJIT, currently leads the squad with 78 points in seven games.

Pachko believes practice will make perfect if she wants to keep up her form against the Illini.

“I just have to keep working hard in practice because (Mitchell) always says ‘How you practice is how you play,’” Pachko said. “If we keep working hard in practice then we’re going to be good.”

If the team has any hopes of handing Illinois its first home loss of the season, the Golden Eagles will have to step up their overall shooting. Currently, Marquette is shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 24.6 from beyond the arc, which is dead-last in the Big East.

“We can improve our threes easily just by getting into position and putting up shots,” Simmons said. “But if our threes aren’t falling then we have to be more mindful and force less shots … we have to be more mindful of where our high shooting percentage is and that’s in the paint.”

The Illini are led by senior forward Lacey Simpson who leads the team in field goal percentage and three-point percentage with 54 and 52.4, respectively. What makes her 3-point percentage even more impressive is that she has attempted more threes than anyone else on the team this season.

And if that wasn’t enough, she leads the team with 35 assists and just 10 turnovers. The Illini as a team have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio but so does Marquette. Simmons believes that can easily be remedied.

“Turnovers can be decreased but I’m not saying that we will eliminate all of our turnovers because that’s just the game of basketball,” she said. “Turnovers can be decreased by just being mindful of the ball and being secure with it. We can’t force it.”