MU Falls in BIG EAST Opener to Xavier, 74-71

Bell tallied 19 points, four steals, and three assists
Dec. 30, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The Marquette University women's basketball team (4-8, 0-1 BIG EAST), which featured four players with double-digit scoring performances, came up short in its BIG EAST opener against Xavier (9-4, 1-1 BIG EAST) Tuesday night at the Al McGuire Center 74-71.

With just under 10 minutes to play Kenisha Bell hit a jumper to cut Xavier's lead to just three after the Golden Eagles had trailed 45-36 at the half and by as much as 12 during the first half. Cristina Bigica followed this up with a steal at midcourt on the Golden Eagles' press, which allowed Bell to knock down two free-throws to make it 55-54, the Musketeers smallest lead of the game up until that point.

The Golden Eagles' defense found its footing in the second half, forcing 10 turnovers within the first 13 minutes of the second stanza.

Marquette finally tied the game up after Apiew Ojulu intercepted a cross-court pass, passed it ahead to Tia Elbert, allowing Arlesia Morse to grab the offensive rebound and convert a layup to tie the score at 62 with 3:40 to play.

Morse tallied 18 points in the contest and hit Marquette's only three pointer. One shot from deep is the Golden Eagles' lowest total this season.

After Briana Glover dropped in her 14th point of the night to put Xavier up 69-66 1:29 to play, Ojulu hit two free throws. On the ensuing possession Bell came up with her fourth steal of the contest, which set up Morse for a pull-up jumper that barely rimmed out.

Bell would finish with a team-high 19 on 6-of-14 shooting. As a team, Marquette shot 12-of-31 (38.7 percent) in both halves and 24-of-62 overall.

Bell was forced to foul Raeshaun Gaffney who sank two free throws to give her a game-high 21 points and the Musketeers a commanding 71-68 lead with only seconds remaining.

Gaffney finished with 23 on the night.

Xavier was limited to just nine second-half field goals, but took advantage of their free throws, converting on 10-of-14 (71 percent).

The Musketeers pushed the pace early hitting two threes to take a 13-2 lead after the first media timeout. Within the first four minutes Xavier had already grabbed three offensive boards and earned five second chance points from their effort.

Using an 8-2 run, Xavier took its largest first-half lead at 23-11 at the 12:12 mark. Following this, both teams traded buckets during the final 10 minutes of the first stanza. Bigica scored two hard-earned buckets after drawing a charge and taking a steal coast-to-coast for a layup. Her sixth point of the game cut MU's deficit to five at 23-18 with 10:38 left in the first. Bigica also hit four free throws in the first half.

Xavier would match its largest lead again at 39-27 after Jenna Crittendon hit her second three pointer of the first half with 5:08 remaining. Crittendon finished with 12 first half points.

Despite Bell's 11 first-half points, the Golden Eagles managed only 39 percent shooting. Xavier was able to take a 45-36 lead in the locker room due to 61 percent shooting and 24 points in the paint.

The Musketeers' first-half total was its largest in the first 20 minutes of play this season.

Although Marquette's field goals weren't falling, MU got to the free throw line early and often in the first half connecting on as many free throws as field goals (12-of-18), matching a first-half season high.

Marquette heads east next to take on Georgetown in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Central time. The game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.




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