Marquette Women’s Basketball: Team dynamics falling in place

Katie Young (#5) has brought a spark to the team. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

The Marquette women’s basketball team comes home to face No. 18/17 Georgetown (14-4, 3-2 Big East) after an exciting winter break. The Golden Eagles have won six of their last seven, picking up three Big East wins with their lone 70-53 loss coming against then-No. 14/13 Louisville on Jan. 3.

With consecutive victories over unranked Seton Hall, Villanova and St. John’s, Marquette looks primed to take on another tough top-25 test in the Hoyas.

Of the first three conference victories, sophomore forward Katherine Plouffe said Sunday’s 63-55 win over St. John’s left the biggest impact on her and the rest of the team.

“A lot of people were not expecting us to win at Madison Square Garden, but we did a lot of good things against St. John’s,” Plouffe said. “We’ve really been working on our team dynamics over the break, and we’ve really been coming together, and I think it showed in that win.”

Sophomore guard Katie Young became a big part of the team dynamic over the break, showing dependability as a scorer with 18 and 16-point performances against the Pirates and Red Storm, respectively.

After missing most of the 2010-’11 season with an ACL injury, Young said coach Terri Mitchell had worked with her on becoming more of a post-oriented player, which has given the Golden Eagles even more depth under the basket.

“I’m still very much a guard, but I’ve increased my time down in the post which has helped my playing time and productivity,” Young said.

She also displayed reliability in the clutch when she nailed a miraculous 40-foot 3-pointer as time expired to defeat Villanova, 51-50 on Jan. 10. She joined sophomore guard Vander Blue as the second Golden Eagle to be featured as the No. 1 play of ESPN’s SportsCenter Top-Ten this season, an unexpected thrill for Young.

“I felt like it had a chance because I shot it like a regular shot and didn’t just lob it up there,” Young said. “Everyone was telling me after the game that it was going to make SportsCenter, but I still couldn’t believe it until I saw it. I’m just a kid from Kenosha and being a part of something like that is an experience I’ll never forget and something I never had even dreamt of.”

With Plouffe and Young leading the way offensively for the Golden Eagles, the defense also rose to the challenge allowing an average of 55 points-per-game over the team’s three-game conference win streak.

Limiting the Hoyas, however, will be a tougher challenge as Georgetown has averaged 65.4 points per game in conference play, led by star junior guard Sugar Rodgers, while going 2-1 in their last three Big East matchups.

“We know Sugar Rodgers brings it every night, and our top priority has to be limiting her,” junior forward Sarina Simmons said. “We have to have a defensive mindset.”

Plouffe said domination of the boards would be another key to victory as it has been for Marquette all season. The Golden Eagles out-rebounded their opponents by a double-digit margin in their last two wins and repeating the task against the physical Hoyas would help the Golden Eagles capitalize on their high shooting percentage.

“We are going to need to box out and rebound, because we know they are a very good rebounding team,” Plouffe said. “Coach Mitchell told us we are ranked third in the conference behind Connecticut and Notre Dame in shooting percentage, and that comes from making the extra pass and taking the best shots we can as opposed to forced shots.”