Marquette Women’s Basketball: Minix stands out after exhibition blowout

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Before creating for herself, coach Terri Mitchell wants sophomore guard Gabbi Minix to run the team. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/aaron.leddesma@marquette.edu

Marquette’s athletic defense proved too much for Carthage College as the women’s basketball team forced 28 turnovers en route to a 64-38 exhibition victory at the Al McGuire Center on Saturday.

“Carthage was really undersized,” junior forward Sarina Simmons said. “It was easy to elevate over the smaller defenders and see the court … we wanted to press our opponent and make them uncomfortable.”

Sophomore guard Gabi Minix contributed 10 points, five assists and dictated the tempo of the game when she was on the court. She was helped by the perimeter scoring of guard Arlesia Morse, one of two freshmen to start the game, and Simmons. Morse connected on two 3-pointers and finished with nine points, while Simmons lead all scorers with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

Regardless of the score, coach Terri Mitchell believes there were valuable teaching moments throughout the contest.

“Exhibition is a great time for us to figure out where we are as a team,” Mitchell said. “There were things I was proud of, and things I was not so proud of. But I know there are things we can get much better at, and it will give us a great focus in practice this week.”

Sophomore forward Katherine Plouffe echoed this thought and believed the exhibition game could be valuable in figuring out what the team is made of.

“We were looking to find out who we were,” she said. “We were looking to figure out our identity … and it showed us what we did well and what we could improve upon.”

One of those practice points must be Marquette’s aggressiveness on the inside boards — an area Mitchell believes could be an eventual strength for the team, given their size. On Saturday, though, the Marquette women were boxed out and outworked in the paint by an undersized Carthage team.

Going into the half, this hard work translated into a slight rebounding edge for the Division III Lady Reds. By the end of game, the Golden Eagles had reversed this trend, but only slightly, winning the rebounding battle 41-36, thanks in part to seven offensive rebounds from Plouffe. Mitchell knows this trend can’t continue going into the season.

“The score does not reflect the things Carthage did tonight,” Mitchell said. “We always want to out-rebound our opponent, and we went into halftime minus one. There is a correlation between that rebounding ability and what you can do in terms of controlling the basketball.”

Simmons, who had seven rebounds in 32 minutes, agrees that the team must focus on improving, especially in a tough Big East conference.

“We hope that with the size advantage we have this year, we can be more consistent on the boards,” she said.

While the questions remain about the Golden Eagles’ aggressiveness on the low post, Minix quieted doubters with a controlled game. She missed one shot from the field, connected on all four free throws and added four rebounds and three steals to her line.

More importantly for Mitchell, she evoked leadership and confidence at the point guard position.

“(Minix’s) first focus is running the team,” Mitchell said. “Having control, making sure her teammates feel confident looking at her and setting them up. That’s the balance we want from her, run the team first.”

On a team where six out of nine available players are true freshmen, this leadership can be invaluable in exceeding expectations this season.

The women will open the regular season Saturday against Mississippi Valley State at the Al McGuire Center.

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