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Women’s basketball forces 17 turnovers in BIG EAST Quarterfinals win

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Marquette forced 17 turnovers to beat Butler in the BIG EAST Quarterfinals.

Marquette forced 17 turnovers to beat Butler in the BIG EAST Quarterfinals.

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

Marquette forced 17 turnovers to beat Butler in the BIG EAST Quarterfinals.

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The women’s basketball team clung to a one-point lead at halftime in the BIG EAST quarterfinals against the eighth-seeded Butler Bulldogs.

Golden Eagles head coach Carolyn Kieger had a strong message for her squad that set the tone for the second half.

“I felt like I was doing all the talking and they were just head-nodding,” she said. “I told them I need dialogue; I need more back and forth conversation. Once that happened they got more engaged in the game.”

All-BIG EAST honorable mention Amani Wilborn answered the call from Kieger with a season-high 26 points en route to a 73-61 victory. She also snagged six rebounds, dished five assists and forced four turnovers.

Butler planned to pack the paint against the Golden Eagles and it worked to their advantage early against Marquette. The Bulldogs forced Marquette to take contested shots, which led to the Bulldogs outrebounding Marquette 39-29 in the game.

“I couldn’t be prouder of how the girls stuck with our plan coming into this game,” Butler head coach Kurt Godlevske said. “We made Marquette work for every shot that they got… I don’t think we had any lapses down the stretch; I just think they made plays.”

The Bulldog’s blueprint resulted in Marquette taking 29 3-pointers, an amount Kieger wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. “(Butler) wanted to keep us out of our driving attacks and off-ball screens,” Kieger said. “We settled a little bit too much from three and we’ll try to fix that when we watch film tonight.”

Along with limiting the Golden Eagle’s opportunities in the paint, Butler stifled top scorers Natisha Hiedeman and Allazia Blockton. The duo combined to shoot 10 for 30, each hitting five shots respectively.

“(Butler’s) zone really got to us in the first half,” Hiedeman said. “We just had to attack it and we saw more shots fall.”

However, the second half was a different story as turnovers plagued the Bulldogs.

Butler’s Tori Schickel and Michelle Weaver combined for 33 points, but their inability to control the ball led to a myriad of Marquette opportunities. The Bulldogs committed 17 turnovers, eight of which came from the duo of Weaver and Schickel. Marquette took advantage, scoring 22 points off of Butler’s turnovers while only giving up the ball six times.

“It’s just a huge strength for Marquette,” Godlevske said. “They make you pay for your mistakes, so we tried to be as conservative as possible with the basketball.”

Heading into the offseason, Butler (15-17, 6-12 BIG EAST) is focused on keeping a positive mindset.

“We know we can play with anyone,” Weaver said. “We’ve got a couple new girls coming in next year so we just have to keep working hard and really focus on working together.”

For Kieger and her team, it’s on to the semifinals. The Golden Eagles (22-8, 15-3 BIG EAST) will play either St. John’s or Creighton Monday at 3 p.m. In the regular season, Marquette bested the Red Storm twice, but the Blue Jays handed Marquette its only home loss of the season.

A win in the semifinals would mark the Golden Eagles’ second-straight BIG EAST Tournament championship appearance.

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