Women’s basketball traveled to Europe for exhibitions games

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette

The Marquette women’s basketball team traveled to Europe for 10 days at the end of summer to play in four offseason games against French and Dutch teams. The team went 1-3 during the stretch, but it proved to be a good team-building experience for a squad that has a new coaching staff and four new freshman.

The team played and traveled through scenic areas of Western Europe, including Paris, Monaco, and Rome. With the stiff level of competition, featuring the likes of professional team AMW France and the Netherlands Women’s National Team, new head coach Carolyn Kieger said playing these games improved the team. 

“The whole foreign tour was an amazing experience for our entire team and coaching staff,” Kieger said.

The trip was also an opportunity for the players to get a glimpse of the new freshman and brand new coaching staff in a competitive situation.

Senior center Chelsie Butler believes that with so many new faces, the trip could not have come at a better time.

“With new additions to the team and an entirely new coaching staff, we were able to get to know one another and grow together,” Butler said. “The energy surrounding the new staff is contagious, and I feel like my teammates and I are really excited for the season and playing in the new system.”

Kieger reiterated this, saying the games really helped improve team chemistry.

“Not only were we able to improve our team chemistry but we had great competition in our four basketball games,” Kieger said.

Besides just playing AMW France and the Netherlands’ Women’s National Team, the Golden Eagles went sightseeing in an effort to get closer as a team.

Marquette kicked off the trip with its game against AMW France. AMW France played well and defeated Marquette 81-67. Every available player was featured in the game, with senior forward Apiew Ojulu leading the team in scoring with 13 points and freshman guard Hannah Grim dropping eight points in her debut.  After the game, the team then spent the rest of the day visiting landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and walking the streets of Paris.

The following two days featured stops in Nice, France, and Como Village, Italy, before the next two games in Florence, Italy, against the Netherlands Women’s National Team.

In their first meeting, the Golden Eagles played well in a 78-72  2OT loss. Senior guard Arlesia Morse registered a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The team grabbed a ridiculous 72 rebounds in the contest, but was unable to bridge the scoring gap.

After enjoying the Italian cuisine and view of the Alps, the two teams matched up once again, this time with Marquette earning the victory, 77-66. Redshirt junior center Lauren Tibbs lead the way with 14 points and the team out-rebounded their opponents 56 to 35. They spent the rest of the day touring the Duomo Cathedral, the largest brick dome ever constructed, before driving to Rome the following morning and visiting the Coliseum and the Roman Forum.

The final game of the tour was Marquette’s third matchup in five days against the Netherlands, resulting in a 77-56 loss. Freshman guard Kenisha Bell paced the team with 12 points, along with contributions from Morse and Butler, who each scored eight points.

Kieger said the games were a great way to spend the offseason.

“Coming out of those basketball games we learned our strengths and weaknesses as both a team and staff and it will only help us as we enter this preseason,” Kieger said.

Despite not winning as much as the team would have liked, Butler said the overseas trip was one of the best moments of her career.

“Being overseas was one of the best experiences I’ve had,” Butler said. “It was eye opening to see a new culture and experience, essentially, an entirely different world. Being able to grow as a family in such a beautiful place was a blessing.”

The Golden Eagles will now take a break from competition before the NCAA basketball season officially starts in October.