Nov. 28, 2008
MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette University women's basketball team held Gonzaga without a field goal for the final seven minutes, 33 seconds of regulation Friday night to complete an 80-77 come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the WBCA Classic from the Al McGuire Center.
Marquette (5-0) overtook the Bulldogs (5-1) with a 13-4 run to close out the contest and win its 10th straight game going back to the 2007-08 season when the Golden Eagles ran the table to claim its first WNIT Championship.
Trailing by as many as eight points at the 7:34 mark, MU methodically chipped away at the Bulldogs' lead through a series of key defensive stops and by converting on its opportunities at the foul line.
The Golden Eagles went to the free throw line a season-high 35 times and shot 18-of-24 (75.0 percent) from the charity stripe in the second half. They also got a career-high 21 points from sophomore forward Paige Fiedorowicz, who led five MU players scoring in double figures and was 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Fiedorowicz netted the first six points of game for MU, which raced out to an early 8-2 lead. She had 14 points at halftime, but that was hardly enough to keep pace with Gonzaga point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Vandersloot was exceptional in orchestrating a Bulldogs' offense that withstood five lead changes to control a 39-33 lead at the intermission. Last year's West Coast Conference (WCC) Newcomer of the Year finished with a career-high -- and Al McGuire Center record -- 32 points and eight rebounds, while dishing out eight assists.
At one point, Vandersloot was 11-of-13 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-point baskets. She knocked down a short jumper to give Gonzaga a 71-63 lead just past the midway point of the second half. That was the last basket made by the Bulldogs, however, as their scoring was relegated exclusively to foul shots.
Freshman Georgie Jones, who came off the Marquette bench to score 12 points, ignited the Al McGuire Center crowd by connecting on back-to-back buckets to get the Golden Eagles to within one, 73-72, at the 3:41 mark. Jones was fouled on a putback attempt on the very next possession and tied the game at 73-73 by sinking the second of her two free throw attempts.
Senior Krystal Ellis took over from there, scoring seven of her 12 points in the final one minute, 40 seconds of action. Ellis was held scoreless during the first half, but went 6-of-7 from the foul line to fend off a late Bulldogs' rally. Down by three in the closing seconds, Vandersloot raced up the court, shook a couple of MU defenders, and double-pumped a desperation 3-pointer that rimmed out as time expired.
Like Ellis, sophomore Angel Robinson persevered through a sluggish start to finish with 13 points and a career-best 11 rebounds and freshman Lauren Thomas-Johnson added 13 points.
Marquette is 5-0 to start a season for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign. The Golden Eagles will attempt to extend their season-opening win streak Saturday when the WBCA Classic continues with a 7 p.m. match up versus No. 16/15 Virginia (4-1).