Women’s basketball stumbles against Creighton

Trib File Photo

Trib File Photo

The Marquette women’s basketball team (4-16, 0-9) dropped its ninth consecutive game with a loss to the Creighton Blue Jays (10-10, 3-6) Sunday afternoon, 93-75.

Senior guard Arlesia Morse led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 21 points and snagged nine rebounds. Morse shot 3-for-9 from the field and was 15-for-15 from the free throw line. As a team, Marquette hit more free throws (26) than it did field goals (23). The team shot 39 percent from the field, but 81 percent from the line. But Creighton was too much, thanks to a dominant double-double performance from Bluejay junior forward Alexis Akin-Otiko, who put up game-highs with 28 points and 12 boards.

After the game, Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger addressed the losing streak.

“We approach it every day like it’s a new day,” Kieger said. “We’re just trying to learn and grow and stay positive and stay energetic. Every game we approach, we think we can win.”

Marquette played without leading scorer Kenisha Bell, who averages 14.1 points per game and had started all but one game this season until Sunday. Bell was replaced in the lineup by senior guard Cristina Bigica, making just her eighth start of the season, and Kieger also subbed freshman forward Shantelle Valentine into the starting lineup, her fifth start of the year. Kieger said Bell’s absence was a “team matter.”

Creighton opened the game by scoring 10 straight points and held Marquette scoreless, forcing a timeout from Kieger with 16:13 to go in the opening 20. The Golden Eagles didn’t find the bottom of the basket until Bigica put in a lay-up with 15:55 to go in the half. She put in two more with a pair of free throws less than 30 seconds later, and suddenly Marquette cut Creighton’s 10-point lead to six.

Those four points were part of an 8-0 run for the Golden Eagles during the next four minutes and Marquette was down just two. Bigica came up big again later in the half, finishing on an and-1 lay up to put Marquette within one. Fittingly, it was Bigica who gave the gold and blue its first lead of the day after two free throws with 6:56 to go. Marquette increased the lead to 22-19 when an inbounds pass was stolen and converted on by freshman guard Hannah Grim.

The game was back and forth for the remainder of the half, with both teams gaining and losing leads through the next seven minutes, but the Golden Eagles took a 35-34 lead into the half. Bigica was Marquette’s leading scorer through the first 20 minutes with 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting and went 5-for-5 from the free throw line. She also grabbed four rebounds in the frame.

The difference in the first half was free throw shooting and field goal shot selection. The Golden Eagles went 12-for-13 from the charity stripe in the first, while Creighton went just 1-for-2. Creighton also struggled from three, which is usually the Bluejays’ bread and butter, shooting 34.8 percent as a team from beyond the arc on the year. Creighton was only 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from deep in the first half. The Golden Eagles opted for more close-range shots and fed the ball inside more often, scoring 16 points in the paint.

Creighton woke up in the second half and reverted to its early form, mounting a 16-5 run to open the frame, taking a 50-40 lead into the first official timeout with 15:06 to go. The timeout did not slow the Bluejays down though, as Marquette could not manage to get any closer than eight points. The Golden Eagles trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half, with Creighton’s offensive prowess being too much for the young Marquette team. Creighton dominated for a majority of the half, but the Golden Eagles managed to scratch and claw their way back in it, cutting the Creighton lead to 14, but could never get over the hump. Marquette made just two field goals in the last 5:30 of the game, losing 93-75.

The Marquette women’s basketball team will be back in action on Friday at 7 p.m. against Villanova at the Al McGuire Center.