Orange power squeezes lady Golden Eagles

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Senior guard Angel Robinson pulls up for a jumper in Marquette's 69-63 loss to Syracuse last Saturday. Photo by Emily Waller /

The Marquette women’s basketball team owes much of its early Big East success this year to its speed. But Saturday, size trumped speed as the Golden Eagles fell to the bigger Syracuse Orange, 69-63.

In games against bigger teams, the Golden Eagles’ formula for success has included forcing turnovers and getting their transition offense going. Going into halftime against Syracuse Saturday, this style of play resulted in a 29-22 Marquette lead.

The team had played, as coach Terri Mitchell called it, “Marquette basketball” to that point. But the second half proved to be a different story.

Despite being outrebounded 22-16 in the first half, the Golden Eagles rebounded from an early five-point deficit to take the lead at halftime.

The Orange looked sluggish and sloppy, giving up 19 turnovers before halftime. Syracuse’s biggest star, sophomore guard Elashier Hall, was held to just one field goal and had a hard time remaining on the floor due to her early struggles.

Despite being down, the Orange did maintain a decisive edge in their post defense.

While the Golden Eagles ran the floor well in the first half, their half-court offense appeared stuck in slow motion. Syracuse forced them to take more shots outside the paint. This keyed an Orange comeback in the second half.

“We knew that they were a bigger team than us,” senior guard Angel Robinson said. “Down the stretch they used their size to their advantage against us.”

With about 13 minutes left in the game, Marquette held a comfortable 42-30 lead, and it appeared it was en route to a solid win over a good opponent having a bad day.

But over the next 10 minutes, Syracuse started hacking away at the Golden Eagle lead by limiting their second half turnovers to seven and slowing the pace of the game. Marquette was forced to play the Orange pound-for-pound and lost its transition offense.

With size came more rebounds and second-chance points for Syracuse in the final minutes. Too many times, the Golden Eagle frontcourt failed to snatch missed Syracuse shots. The Orange’s post players not only outmatched Marquette, but outmuscled them as well, posting a 26-8 advantage in points in the paint in the second half.

“We take what the defense gives us,” senior guard Tatiyiana McMorris said, “but we are at our best when we can get the post going.”

Hall also got her game going in the second half, hitting some important shots despite finishing with only nine points.

When it stole the lead back, Syracuse stood tall down low and locked in on defense. Marquette struggled to find good shots and started making the kind of mistakes it had capitalized off of in the first half.

Mitchell gave credit to Syracuse as a “very good team” and felt that the Orange’s defense and domination of the boards did Marquette in.

“Their press slowed us down, and they had some big rebounds at critical times,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we attacked. We would get rebounds and just fail to attack.”