Marquette Advances to the WNIT Championship with a 77-64 Win Over Pittsburgh
March 27, 2006
MILWAUKEE - With three Golden Eagles in double figures, the Marquette women's basketball team defeated Pittsburgh, 77-64, in the semifinals of the Women's NIT at the Al McGuire Center and advance to the championship game for the first time in program history. Marquette will travel to Manhattan, Kan. to face Kansas State in the WNIT Championship game on Friday, March 31.
"I can't express enough how excited we are to be playing deep into March and be playing in the championship game," head coach Terri Mitchell said. "Effort is always huge and outworking your opponent, but we are just having fun."
"We are just gaining tons of experience and having a blast while doing it." Mitchell added. "We have lot of heart, and right now we have the depth we need and we are just enjoying it. This is fun. Seniors are ending their career on a great note, they are ending their careers in a championship game."
Freshman Krystal Ellis led three MU players in double figures, with 18 points. She also recorded two steals, setting a new freshman single-season steals mark, with 62 for her career.
Sophomore Svetlana Kovalenko registered a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, while junior Danielle Kamm tallied her third double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 boards. Collectively the Golden Eagles hit 43.6 percent of their attempts from the floor for the game and held a dominating rebounding advantage, 39-29.
Along with Kamm who had 10 boards, junior Christina Quaye contributed eight, while Kovalenko and Ellis added five apiece.
"They outrebounded us the first time around," said Mitchell. "We went up on the boards to battle for each ball. I am so proud of the way our team did that tonight. We were doing whatever we could to keep a very strong, athletic team off- balance."
Marquette jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead, after a Jasmine McCullough layup. The Golden Eagles took their largest lead of the first half - 13 points (34-21) - after a trey from Erin Monfre with 3:22 left in the first half.
The Panthers rallied at the end of the half with a 7-2 run but Kovalenko ended Pitt's comeback attempt with a long range bucket and Kamm added a layup to help the Golden Eagles go into the locker room with a 11-point advantage, 41-30. The 41 points was a first half season-high.
Kovalenko and Ellis led Marquette in the first half, each tallying eight points and three rebounds. Danielle Kamm and Erin Monfre combined for 13 points in Marquette's first half balanced scoring effort.
Thanks to a strong defensive effort from the Golden Eagles, the closest the Panthers came was four points, 55-51, after an 8-2 run midway through the second stanza.
Marquette's seven point lead for most of the second half turned into a 13-point lead after Ellis sunk a trey to go ahead, 66-53 with 3:47 left on the clock. Pitt's Shavonte Zellous and Maddy Brown drained three-pointers to trim the lead to within 10 points, but their late effort was no match for the Golden Eagles' balanced attack on both sides of the ball.
"This is just another chance for postseason play," said Quaye. "We have been focused to get as far as we can. A lot of people don't realize how many great teams are in this tournament, it is a great postseason tournament to be a part of."