Quickness kills

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Speed kills, as the saying goes, and for a team that considers itself undersized, speed can be the key to victory.

Coming into its regular season opener, the Marquette women’s basketball team looked to play at a higher pace and see improvement in the play of its guards. In its dominating 88-46 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday night, the Golden Eagles got what they wanted.

Marquette ran the floor easily and displayed the speed that it had lacked in its exhibition against Wisconsin-Parkside.

The Golden Eagles looked like a fluid, well-oiled machine on the fast break, where they collected 34 points. That, combined with a total of 60 points in the paint, allowed Marquette to overwhelm the Lady Lions.

The smoothness of the Golden Eagles’ offense came from the much improved guard play. Of the team’s 28 total assists, senior guards Angel Robinson and Tatiyiana McMorris combined for 12. Crisp passing created openings on the court that wouldn’t have been there otherwise and neutralized Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s press defense.

“We did a good job focusing on finding the open players,” senior forward Paige Fiedorowicz said. “I think that led to our connection with the guards.”

Robinson displayed her unselfishness by passing rather than shooting in order to set up her teammates.

“She wanted to let her teammates score tonight,” Fiedorowicz said. “I think she took a back seat tonight and helped the rest of the team.”

The guards fed the two-headed monster of Fiedorowicz and freshman forward Katherine Plouffe, allowing the duo to put up 39 points under the basket and off the break. Sophomore forward Sarina Simmons picked up her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds to add to the domination down low.

The swift hands of the Golden Eagles had 17 steals including a combined nine from Robinson, McMorris and freshman guard Gabi Minix.

“I think we have an emphasis on running the ball and getting good transition looks,” Plouffe said. “The guards and the post work together so well that we know we are going to get those open looks if we run the floor.”

Senior guard Courtney Weibel’s perimeter shooting is one more piece of the puzzle that should improve as the season progresses. After going 0-for-4 from three-point land in the exhibition, Weibel chipped in two three-pointers on six attempts against Pine Bluff.

Coach Terri Mitchell is excited for the beginning of the season and with the way that her team performed in the opener, but her intentions are to get better for game two.

“We work on the fast break every day,” Mitchell said. “We work on filling the lanes and opportunities. We changed our mentality after the first half (Saturday) and focused on feeding the post, and I think that helped with the rhythm of our offense.”

Marquette played the kind of basketball that it will need to play against Big East teams. Unlike in the preseason game, the guards stepped up and created opportunities in transition rather than trying to outmuscle the other team pound for pound in the paint.

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