Marquette advances in close win over Villanova

ROSEMONT, IL– The third time against Villanova Wildcats was the charm for the Marquette women’s basketball team. Thanks to a 13-point second half performance from senior Katherine Plouffe, the Golden Eagles knocked off the Wildcats 56-53 in the second round of the Big East Conference tournament at the Allstate Arena.

The Golden Eagles were swept in the season series by the Wildcats and were drubbed 81-64 in Pennsylvania just six days prior. Head coach Terri Mitchell said the biggest adjustment was made on the defensive end.

Redshirt freshman Ashley Santos controls the offense in the first half of No. 5 Marquette's BIG EAST Quarterfinals matchup with No. 4 Villanova on 3/9/14. Photo by Francesca Reed.
Redshirt freshman Ashley Santos controls the offense in the first half of No. 5 Marquette’s BIG EAST Quarterfinals matchup with No. 4 Villanova on 3/9/14. (Photo by Francesca Reed)

“For us it was just erasing that memory,” Mitchell said. “Our defense did an outstanding job. We were switching a lot in the first game and this game we stuck with our man and said ‘just find a way.’ Each individual took responsibility to say they were going to stop someone.”

Villanova shot the lights out from beyond the arc in the previous meeting, going 13-of-21 from 3-point land, but only shot 4-of-24 on Sunday night.

“The other factor in the game was we were 4-of-24 from three,” Villanova’s head coach Harry Perretta said. “For us to win against a quality team, we need to make probably seven or eight threes minimum to have a chance to win and we didn’t do that today.”

Marquette held the lead for most of the game, but with 1:22 remaining, Caroline Coyer nailed a lay-up to pull the Wildcats ahead 53-51 before Plouffe took over.

Plouffe cut the lead in half with a free throw and with 20 seconds left pulled down a crucial offensive rebound on a missed shot by Arlesia Morse to draw a foul and regain the lead at the free-throw line.

On the ensuing possession for the Wildcats, Coyer went up for a shot that was swatted away by Plouffe into the hands of Ashley Santos, who was fouled and made two free throws that would seal the win for the Golden Eagles.

Plouffe led Marquette with 14 points, but was held to just a single point in the first half. Although she only shot 3-of-11 from the floor, she pulled down six offensive rebounds and tried to create as many chances as possible.

“I just worked for it and my teammates were looking for me,” Plouffe said. “I just had to look to create opportunities for myself as well as my teammates setting me up. Just keep working even if I didn’t get the ball the first time.”

Brooklyn Pumroy was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double figures with 11 points. Katie Young scored nine points and Apiew Ojulu, Cristina Bigica and Morse each had six.

The Wildcats yield a young roster with only two seniors. Perretta said that his biggest concern going into the third matchup was whether his team could combat Marquette’s experienced roster once again.

“The bottom line was I didn’t know whether we could get over the hump again against their experienced players,” Perretta said. “When it came down to the end those players got those crucial offensive rebounds.”

The Wildcats had three players in double figures, with Devon Kane leading the way with 19 points. Taylor Holeman scored 13 and Sixth-Man of the Year Coyer added 10.

Marquette advances to face the top-seeded DePaul Blue Demons on Monday night. The teams split the regular season series, with both teams winning on their home floors. Mitchell said she is looking forward to facing the Blue Demons one more time.

“We know they’re the favorite and they’ll have the crowd behind them,” Mitchell said. “They’re an incredible team and we’re just really excited to play. We battle with DePaul all the time and it’s going to be great to play a third time.”