Bench contributions propel Marquette past Parkside

Depth, or lack thereof, is a key component of the success or failure of any team. The starting five of the Marquette women’s basketball team has plenty of experience and talent, but the fate of this year’s squad rests in the hands of its bench players.

In their 76-43 victory over Wisconsin-Parkside in their season-opening exhibition game, the Golden Eagles received a boost of 24 points off the bench, 10 from senior forward Jasmine Collins.

After averaging a mere 6.1 minutes per game last season, Collins took advantage of every one of her 18 minutes on the court Saturday night. She used her height to help Marquette dominate the paint, where Collins collected six rebounds. She even dished out two assists for good measure.

She was relentless under the basket, scoring mostly with layups and second-chance buckets.

With 5:07 left in the first half, Collins pulled up for a surprising three-pointer and banked it home to put the Golden Eagles up 28-17. Twenty-three seconds later, she finished on a fast break after a beautiful lob pass from freshman guard Gabi Minix.

At 6-feet-2-inches, Collins is a player that needed to show she could contribute down low, and her performance, even against a smaller team, spoke volumes about the way she can fill that role this season.

“I know my role, and I play my role the best I can,” Collins said. “We saw an opening down low early tonight and took advantage of it.”

In order to have any chance in the Big East this season, Marquette will need similar showings from nearly every member of coach Terri Mitchell’s bench. Collins’ performance stood out most to Mitchell, but she’s not ready to base too much on Saturday night’s contest.

“Obviously, we know it’s an exhibition game. No one is jumping up and down,” Mitchell said. “We had some great moments as a team, but there’s still a lot we need to work on.”

Scoring in the paint and dominating down low were the key factors against UW-Parkside. The frontcourt combination of Collins and senior forward Paige Fiedorowicz, sophomore forward Sarina Simmons and freshman forward Katherine Plouffe scored a total of 47 points.

“We were just planning on pushing the ball,” Fiedorowicz said. “We’re undersized, and even though we were bigger than the team we played (Saturday), pushing the ball is something we are going to have to do once we get into our Big East season.”

Where the Golden Eagles’ forwards excelled, their guards struggled. Senior Courtney Weibel was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and senior Angel Robinson turned the ball over five times, despite her 11 points and seven assists.

Coupled with a need for its bench players to stand out is a need for Marquette’s guards to step up.

The Golden Eagles will not be able to rely only on their forwards to save them once the Big East season begins. It’s only an exhibition game, but Marquette still has a lot of work to do before it takes on conference powerhouses like Connecticut and West Virginia.