Marquette Women’s Basketball: Inside presence not enough
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After combining for only 11 points in a sloppy loss to Georgetown, freshman center Apiew Ojulu and sophomore forward Katherine Plouffe bounced back against Providence, matching their previous total by halftime (13). The duo comprised the core of the offense in a tough 52-50 loss to the Lady Friars on Saturday.
Ojulu was comfortable in the first half as Marquette (12-8, 3-4 Big East) focused on getting points in the paint. In the last Big East contest against Geoergetown, her production in the opening minutes had been scarce — scoring only three points in the first half of that game.
The center did not change her style of play entering this game, though, but her production improved. She scored seven of the team’s first 13 points, and helped keep the Golden Eagles within striking distance.
“I pretty much did the same thing and the same routine,” Ojulu said. “I wanted to help out my team (Saturday) like I do all the time. I just thought I’d try to get the ball and go up strong, because these girls were big,”
Once the tempo picked up in the second half, the Plouffe seen in Big East play pre-Georgetown showed up. Entering Saturday night, Plouffe had averaged 15 points per game since playing Seton Hall on Jan. 7.
Plouffe took the reins on offense in the second half, building off six points in the first half to gain momentum to start the second. She was at the center of a 20-4 run by Marquette to open up the second half.
Plouffe shone on the defensive end as well, taking on Providence’s leading scorer and rebounder, redshirt senior forward Teya Wright. Plouffe exploded for 10 points in the second half and finished with 11 rebounds, nine of which came on the defensive glass.
“It was a team effort on whoever was around her down low,” Plouffe said about the approach to defending Wright who was averaging 13 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. “We never looked into match-ups to see who would take her on.”
Wright would leave the game due to a mouth injury on an offensive foul in the second half, but Marquette was unable to take advantage of the situation. Marquette only scored five points with Wright absent, with all five coming from sophomore guard Katie Young.
Providence made Marquette pay after freshman guard Arlesia Morse fouled Providence senior guard Rachel Barnes with .01 second left. Barnes would sink the two free throws, preventing overtime and sealing a 52-50 Lady Friars win.
Coach Terri Mitchell pointed out giving the ball away as one of the main issues the Golden Eagles have continue to struggle with. Marquette committed 27 turnovers compared to the 17 it forced from Providence.
“Turnovers continue to be an area that we are just suffering with,” Mitchell said. “I know we have good kids that understand what it takes, but under pressure we’re just a little out of character right now. We’re going to keep addressing it, and we’re going to keep getting better.”