Women’s basketball splits weekend series

Trib File Photo

Trib File Photo

After playing 11 Big East opponents and having only one win to show for it, the Marquette women’s basketball team doubled its conference win total this past weekend.

The Golden Eagles split a pair of games during the weekend, losing a road game to Xavier 91-72 Friday before weathering two overtimes to prevail against Butler in Indianapolis Sunday 77-74.

“I think we’ve grown as a defensive team and we’ve grown in our composure,” said coach Carolyn Kieger.

Marquette trailed Butler 56-54 with a minute left in regulation when senior guard Arlesia Morse hit a crucial jumper to force a tie. The game went into overtime as Butler turned the ball over on its next possession and Morse missed a potential game-winning three.

Marquette led for the majority of the first overtime and held a two-point advantage with 12 seconds left. However, Butler forward Ijeoma Uchendu connected on a layup as time expired to send the game into another overtime.

Marquette bounced back from its failure to capture the win in the first overtime period in the second extra stanza. The visitors hit 6-of-7 free throws in the final minute of the game to seal away a 77-74 win.

Kieger said she was confident her team would be able to pull out the win, even after squandering an opportunity to close out Butler in the first overtime.

“I thought we should have won earlier than we did,” Kieger said. “I was pretty confident the whole time.”

Morse, who averages 14.8 points per game, recorded a team-high 18 points against Butler to help propel Marquette to victory. She is also a 93.3 percent free throw shooter on the year, which is the best percentage in the NCAA. She has not missed one since Jan. 23, making 41 consecutive free throws in the process.

Four players – Morse, Kenisha Bell, Cristina Bigica and Tia Elbert – scored in double digits for Marquette against Butler. As a team, the Golden Eagles shot 45.3 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

Uchendu recorded a double-double for Butler with 27 points and 13 boards.

Xavier, however, proved to be a more difficult opponent for the Golden Eagles. A 3-pointer from Morse cut the Xavier lead to 10 points with 11:52 left in the second half, but that was as close as the score would get for the rest of the game. Briana Glover’s 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting proved to be too much for Marquette to handle as the team dropped the game 91-72.

Bell, who scored 17 points against Butler, contributed 19 points against the Musketeers.

“The way that Kenisha has progressed has been very encouraging,” said Kieger. “She has learned to control her speed, which is really difficult to do as a freshman.”

The weekend’s results move Marquette to 2-11 in conference play and put them in a tie for last place in the Big East with the Providence Friars. The Golden Eagles are currently a game behind the eighth-place Georgetown Hoyas.

Marquette will be in the Al McGuire Center next weekend as the Golden Eagles finish up their home slate by taking on St. John’s at 8 p.m. Friday and second-place Seton Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday. It will be the final two home games of the season.