Women’s basketball: Bulls run over Golden Eagles

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Arlesia Morse. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz

Usually when a team forces its opponent to shoot 33.3 percent from the field, a win follows. However, it provides little advantage when the team in question only makes 28.6 percent of its own field goal attempts.

The Marquette women’s basketball team dropped another conference matchup Tuesday night as South Florida pulled away in a sloppy and defensive 61-48 battle. Turnovers were yet again the Achilles heel of the Golden Eagles as they gave the ball away 24 times, granting the Bulls 24 points off of turnovers.

With Marquette’s transition game in trouble early, South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said shutting down sophomore guard Katherine Plouffe was his team’s biggest objective.

“I thought we needed to pressure the ball, create some turnovers and get some easy baskets in transition, but it was going to come down to how we defended Plouffe inside, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that,” Fernandez said. “I think our guards really pressured the ball and got in passing angles. We had everybody in help, and we took a couple charges on her, and we wanted to double her and take it out of her hands.”

By lessening Plouffe’s impact the Bulls were able to disrupt the Golden Eagles’ rhythm and keep the game low scoring. Marquette’s leading point scorer in 12 games this seasons was limited to eight points, converting only three of her thirteen field goal attempts and turning the ball over seven times.

The matchup truly was a battle of two different styles of play, and South Florida’s gritty, slow-paced smothering defense won the day. The Golden Eagles, who all too often rely on a smooth, flowing, fast-paced style, were thrown off in a big way by the Bulls’ press as would-be assists sailed off-target throughout the game.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball as well as we should have,” freshman guard Arlesia Morse said. “We kept throwing it up to where we thought our teammates would be, and they weren’t there.”

Morse was the lone bright spot for the Golden Eagles, finishing the game with 20 points and bringing Marquette to within seven points with back-to-back threes with 5:22 left in the game. Her effort failed to spark any kind of comeback however, as the Bulls finished on a 13-7 run.

In the end, South Florida exposed a key Marquette weakness. When forced to play straight-up half-court basketball, the Golden Eagles simply have not had the talent to match up pound for pound with their competition, particularly at the guard positions.

Assistant coach Ashley Earley said Marquette’s struggle to push the ball led to its low scoring totals and in turn to frustration fouls towards the end of the contest.

“I think part of our success has been when we are able to push the ball, and when we don’t get that transition we get into our sets,” Earley said. “When we can’t push, you see the below 50-point scoring, and we usually score above 70 when we are pushing the ball well. I think we were more aggressive towards the end and it led to putting ourselves in bad positions and getting silly fouls.”

Earley said the team is taking the rest of the season one game at a time, but with matchups against Connecticut and Rutgers closing out the regular season, Marquette cannot afford to slip up against Syracuse and Cincinnati.

While victories against the Huskies and Scarlet Knights seem out of this team’s reach, the Orange and Bearcats are currently tied at 12th with the Golden Eagles in the conference standings. These match-ups, like the South Florida game, will be “push” games against beatable teams that will make or break Marquette’s postseason hopes.