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MU overcomes slow start to defeat USF

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Angel Robinson and the Golden Eagles won ugly Tuesday night against South Florida.

In the first half of its 63-50 victory against South Florida, the Marquette women’s basketball team proved that hitting shots with relative consistency isn’t crucial to win.

The team shot 29 percent (9-of-31) from the field in the half and missed its first five shots of the game, all of which came in or within inches of the lane. Before this game, the Golden Eagles hit 38.6 percent of their field goal attempts.

The team’s first field goal came at the 15:52 mark on a layup by freshman forward Sarina Simmons. The team’s ability to knock down shots slumped down to a game low with 7:49 left when it was shooting 19 percent (4-21).

Sophomore forward Jessica Pachko, who missed her first two shots before making four of her next eight, said that when things aren’t going right offensively, you have to keep fighting.

“You can’t always make all of your shots and so we just have to continue to play how we did,” Pachko said. “I missed plenty of shots that I was being way too passive and not playing how I normally play.”

The first half shooting struggles weren’t reserved to just two-point field goals. The team also had struggles from the 3-point line. The Golden Eagles were 1-for-6 from downtown. Junior guard Courtney Weibel had five of those six attempts and had the one make in eight minutes of first half action.

Coach Terri Mitchell wasn’t upset with her guard’s shot selection, though.

“Courtney has the green light,” Mitchell said. “It’s going to open up things inside. I trust her 100 percent in the decisions she’s making. The more comfortable she is out there, and knocking shots down, it makes people have to react.”

The free throw line was the one offensive aspect of the game the team had no problem with all night. Marquette converted all seven of its attempts in the first half.

“Free throws are all mental because that’s just you and a free shot, so it’s all in your head,” said Pachko, who was 5-for-5 from the line.

Pachko, who went 4-for-10 in the first half, was one of the few players who didn’t struggle from the field. She said Robinson’s ability to cut and dish to her around the hoop were vital to her offensive success in the first half.

Mitchell said the team’s ability to continually attack the basket helped counteract the poor shooting performance from the field.

At halftime, despite its shooting, Marquette was up 26-21.

Mitchell said the team was able to stay in the game in the first half because of its defensive play. As a result, South Florida shot 28.6 percent in the first half (8-28) and 10 percent (1-10) from the 3-point line. The Golden Eagles also forced 13 turnovers in the first half.

“If your offense isn’t there, just lock down, draw a line in the sand and say you’re going to get it done defensively,” Mitchell said.

The team shouldn’t have any concerns moving forward about shooting, Robinson said, because in the second half it made 44 percent of its field goals. The Golden Eagles hope that second half hot streak will carry over into Saturday’s game against Providence.

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