Junior forward Katherine Plouffe’s efforts this weekend earned her the GoMarquette Student-Athlete of the Week award, but they were not enough to pull off a two-game sweep at the Texas A&M Thanksgiving Classic. Marquette handily defeated Marshall on Friday, 67-46, and struggled against No. 24 A&M in an 84-64 loss Sunday.
Plouffe scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Marshall and netted 18 points on Sunday. Plouffe and sophomore guard Arlesia Morse were the only double-digit scorers in the tournament finale.
Marquette shot the ball with relative mediocrity in both matches, putting up a 39 percent shooting clip followed by 42 percent. The 3-point shooting was a struggle for the team, going just 7-for-29 from long range, good for 24 percent.
With junior point guard Gabi Minix out with a knee injury, the shooting guards have had to fill the ball handling role, which associate head coach Michelle Nason said has been a challenging transition.
“That’s new for them,” Nason said. “They are pretty much traditional shooting guards. I think because they had the ball in their hands a little bit more, they were not the ones being set up for their shots. We have to figure out how to put them in situations where they can help bring the ball up and still set up for their shots.”
The Golden Eagles’ record now stands at 2-2 after the split, and in both of the team’s losses this year the turnover figures have been disparaging. In the loss at Georgia Tech, Marquette turned the ball over 37 times. The team had 25 turnovers in its A&M defeat.
“They taught us a lot,” coach Terri Mitchell told GoMarquette.com. “We are turning the ball over too much; we know that and we are going to keep fighting.”
During the Marshall game, Marquette dominated the boards, getting a 51-36 advantage on the glass. Junior guard Katie Young led all players with 12 rebounds as the Golden Eagles used their 23 team offensive rebounds to consistently get second-chance scoring opportunities. Only committing six fouls the entire game, Marquette sent the Thundering Herd to the foul stripe just twice, and they missed both free throws.
Texas A&M would prove to be Marquette’s first true test of the season. The Golden Eagles kept the game close to start, tying the score at 20 on a jumper by sophomore center Chelsie Butler, but the Aggies would make a 26-1 run to end the half and put Marquette in a deep hole. The Aggies would hold Marquette without a field goal for a span of 10:04, and the Golden Eagles fell behind by as many as 31 points before chopping the deficit to 14 with under four minutes left.
Marquette now turns its attention to a meeting at South Dakota State tomorrow evening. The 3-3 Jackrabbits are coming off an 88-62 loss to Central Michigan, but earlier this month they put together an upset win over No. 15 Nebraska. Nason notes it’s especially important for Marquette to prepare against a team that has demonstrated it can play with tougher teams. Additionally, she says the atmosphere will be the most hostile one yet for the Golden Eagles.
“The place will be packed, and the entire town shuts down for their games,” Nason said. “It’s an incredible environment. We can’t be limping into South Dakota State. We have to go in there ready to play because they can beat anybody at any given time. We learn from our mistakes, then we get better and then we play the next opponent.”