Women’s Big East Tournament experience ends sooner than desired

MU loses to Rutgers 68-62 in the Quarterfinals. Angel Robinson led the team with 18 points, and Jasmine Collins had a career-high 17 points. File Photo by Emily Waller / Emily.Waller@Marquette.edu

The No. 25 Golden Eagles (23-8, 10-6 Big East) found themselves heading back to Milwaukee earlier than they would’ve liked after a 68-62 loss to Rutgers (19-11, 11-5 Big East) in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

The Golden Eagles earned a first-round bye and the No. 5 seed thanks to a tie-breaking 76-65 win over Louisville Jan. 26 and defeated 12th-seeded Pittsburgh (14-17, 5-11 Big East) 65-61 in the second round.
Marquette had an early 14-4 lead with 13:25 left in the first half, but the Panthers rallied to a 30-23 advantage at halftime.

Pittsburgh held onto that lead until senior forward Jasmine Collins tied the game at 53 with a layup with 5:44 left. After the Panthers missed a layup, senior guard Courtney Weibel buried a 3-pointer to put the Golden Eagles ahead for good.

In the victory, three seniors scored in double digits with senior forward Paige Fiedorowicz’s 14 points leading the pack. Guard Tatiyiana McMorris picked up 13 of her own along with six assists and four rebounds, and Collins scored 10 off the bench.

Next up was the No. 4 seed Scarlet Knights, who have always been a problem for Marquette. Rutgers held a 7-0 all-time record against the Golden Eagles and had already defeated Marquette, 76-55, on Feb. 19.

Marquette took a 26-24 lead into the half, but lost it early in the second half. The Scarlet Knights kept building their lead until they held a 15-point advantage with 4:32 left on the clock.

The Golden Eagles made a comeback attempt, pulling to within six points with 39 seconds left, but Rutgers hit 6-of-9 free throws in the final 1:13 when Marquette resorted to the fouling game.

Senior guard Angel Robinson led the team in scoring with 18 points and never left the floor, playing all 40 minutes.

“I feel like they needed me on the floor not just to score but to lead,” Robinson said. “I got the rest I needed during the timeouts, but I never felt too tired. We are a very conditioned team and with that comes a certain mental toughness.” Rutgers’ post players were tough inside and combined for 50 points – 73.5 percent of Rutgers point total. The Scarlet Knights also outrebounded the Golden Eagles 42-33.

“We knew they were going to pound it inside and we tried to adjust,” Fiedorowicz said. “But at the end of the day we just weren’t making shots inside or out.”

Fiedorowicz said her team “played well together” and “was very unselfish” but acknowledged the difficulty of winning in the Big East.

All Marquette can do now is wait. It expects to reach the NCAA Tournament as it did the last time it picked up more than 20 victories in 2007-’08. But questions of seeding and where and who the Golden Eagles will play in the first round remain to be decided.

“This league prepares you for any team in the country,” coach Terri Mitchell said. “Now it’s the second season of the NCAA Tournament, and we won’t see any team in the first round that we haven’t been prepared for.”