Women take a season-long step in the right direction

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Women take a season-long step in the right direction

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Photo by Maggie Bean

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Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

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The Marquette women’s basketball team finished the season 22-11 after a 72-69 loss to Indiana in the second round of the WNIT Saturday. The Golden Eagles went a round further than last season, exceeding expectations in the new Big East.

Marquette opened the season at home against Wake Forest and soundly beat the Deacon Demons 90-71, which kickstarted a four-game winning streak. Three of the four games were at home, and the Golden Eagles still climbed as high as No. 29 in the polls.

With its 4-0 record, Marquette welcomed then-No. 2 Duke to the Al McGuire Center. Marquette hung around for the majority of the first half, but ultimately fell to the Blue Devils 78-61, giving the team its first loss. Two more wins at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout, including one against senior Katherine Plouffe’s sister Michelle’s Utah team, brought the team to 6-1 before it took on Wisconsin.

The Badgers came to Milwaukee and the two teams battled it out all game. Wisconsin needed a layup with .8 seconds left in order to eke out the 62-60 victory. Marquette won its next three games to close out nonconference play with a solid 9-2 record.

Marquette traveled to Big East newcomer Butler for its first conference game of the season, and kicked off conference play in a thrilling fashion. Junior Lauren Tibbs made the final basket of the game with 1:54 left in the game, and the teams traded missed shots, fouls and rebounds until the final buzzer sounded. Marquette followed up the win against Butler with a two-point loss against Villanova in its first conference game at the Al McGuire Center.

An overtime win at Georgetown and a win at Xavier gave the Golden Eagles a 3-0 road record to start the Big East, while a loss to St. John’s and a victory versus Providence resulted in a 1-2 home record. Ultimately, Marquette suffered from inconsistency in the final stretch of the Big East season.

The Golden Eagles had a two-game losing streak on the road before countering that with two consecutive wins. A loss to Butler at home sparked another winning streak before losing in overtime to Seton Hall. Marquette closed out the season with victories at St. John’s and Creighton before falling in the season finale at Villanova.

The team traveled to Chicago to participate in the Big East Tournament, beating Villanova before losing to DePaul in the quarterfinals. Marquette then participated in the WNIT, where the team beat Indiana State before losing to Indiana.

This year’s Golden Eagles benefitted from experience. Plouffe continued to be the team’s unquestioned leader as she led Marquette in points, free throw percentage and rebounds. Plouffe was also the only player on the team who averaged a double-double.

Fellow senior Katie Young stepped up her game this season, averaging 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds for the season. Junior Arlesia Morse was the team’s spark plug off the bench, as she made the most three-pointers on the team and averaged double-digit points. Morse also joined the 1,000-point club this season. Sophomore Brooklyn Pumroy continued to grow in her starting role, as she greatly decreased her turnovers and averaged the most minutes of any Golden Eagle.

As a team, Marquette emphasized rebounds and it showed every game. The Golden Eagles averaged 45.3 rebounds per game, compared to their opponent’s average of 32.3. Of those 45.3 rebounds, 16.1 of those were came on offense.

Unlike last season, the Golden Eagles will say goodbye to three players: Plouffe, Young and Courtney Thomas. Plouffe is the only graduating player to score more than 1,000 points in her career.

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