Women’s basketball gears up for Big East Tourney

Angel Robinson has been a big part of Marquette's success. Photo by Emily Waller / Emily.Waller@marquette.edu

The Marquette women’s basketball team didn’t realize that when it defeated Louisville 76-65 on Jan. 26, that the victory would be the difference between the No. 5 seed and No. 6 seed in the Big East Championship tournament which starts tomorrow in Hartford, Conn.

Senior guard Tatiyiana McMorris’s three-point shooting against the Cardinals (5-9) may have been the golden ticket for Marquette to bypass the first round and earn a bye.

The women have fallen out of the tournament the previous three seasons without making it through a second round game. The farthest the Golden Eagles have gotten in the past five years was a 63-55 loss to Rutgers in semifinals in 2006-’07.

With an automatic entry into the second round, this may be the year for Marquette to leave its mark.

“I think regardless of who we play, the Big East is the toughest conference, so anybody is a contender,” sophomore forward Sarina Simmons said.

The Golden Eagles ended conference play with their best record, 10-6, since the seniors first stepped on the floor in the 2006-’07 season. They finished 6-10 in 2009-‘10, 7-9 in 2008-‘09 and 8-8 in 2007-’08.

In the past three years during Big East postseason play DePaul has halted the Golden Eagles twice: in the first round in 2007-’08, 73-69, and then in the second round in 2009-’10, 64-54.

In between Blue Demon defeats, Cincinnati upset the women 60-51 in overtime with a 7-1 scoring run in the final minutes of regulation in the 2008-’09 meeting.

In Marquette’s last regular season game, Monday’s match-up against the Bearcats, 12 fouls and 35.3 percent (6-17) three-point shooting cost the Golden Eagles a big game in a 65-62 loss – Cincinnati’s first in its last 13 games.

Marquette’s first chance to redeem itself will come this Saturday against either No. 12 seeded Pittsburgh (13-16, 5-11 Big East) or No. 13 South Florida (12-18, 3-13 Big East).

In its lone game against South Florida on Jan. 16, Marquette trailed throughout most of the contest but used a late 11-0 run to beat the Bulls 61-55.

“South Florida is super athletic, and their guards are really good penetrators, and that’s what hurt us,” senior guard Courtney Weibel said.

Pittsburgh proved to be a more trying game for the Golden Eagles, but Marquette still squeaked out a 74-70 overtime victory on Jan. 29.

The Panthers are a strong rebounding team and Marquette will need to be conscientious of the battle of the boards if the two teams meet Saturday, Weibel said.

Senior guard Angel Robinson said focus is going to be key for Marquette to succeed in the tournament.  Everyone has to “treat it like a new game, new day, and come out and play hard,” Robinson added.

Simmons said she’ll have to step up for Marquette to be successful in the tournament.

“I have to take it upon myself more to contribute more instead of fading in the background,” she said.

If Marquette makes it through its first game, then it will be looking forward to a rematch against Rutgers on Sunday.

“We’re all kind of hungry and just can’t wait for that first game,” Robinson said.