In the first half of Saturday night's game against UConn, Marquette had no answer to for UConn's freshman center, Tina Charles. Charles dominated in the lane, and her fourteen points spotted her team to a seemingly comfortable 31-20 halftime lead.
But Marquette found its answer in the second half, as Christina Quaye tossed in fourteen of her team high 20 points to tie Charles for high-scorer honors. Quaye had a chance to tie the game with twelve seconds left, but her three-pointer hit the front of the rim and bounced out.
Playing before a capacity crowd in probably their biggest home game ever, the Golden Eagles hardly looked intimidated. If anything, the visitors looked a little rattled, committing six turnovers in the first six minutes to jump out to an early lead.
Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma found the atmosphere challenging enough.
"I thought when the schedule came out that this would be as tough as any place to play in the league, and it certainly was. I was telling Father, the chaplain here that I was concerned about what has happened to the quality of Catholic school education, their language behind the bench. It was enough to make me lose my confidence in Catholic education. Of course, this is Milwaukee, so the kids drink a lot. I think if they take care of that, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. Actually, these kids were fun. They were on us even before the game began. Was this the toughest place to play? Well, they couldn't be worse than Rutgers. They would have to go down a whole lot to reach the level of Rutgers."
But then the Huskies hit their stride, and Marquette seemed to lose its focus. UConn went on a 9-0 run midway through the first half to take command of the game. Marquette Coach Terri Mitchell was dissatisfied with her team's effort in the first half.
"We just disappeared for ten minutes in the first half. Now, the second half was a different story. That's the Marquette team I know and love. We played with energy and passion, we were attacking, I loved the way we finished the game, I loved Christina Quaye's effort, but I keep reflecting back on the first half."
The second half was another story. Marquette used some tenacious defense to claw their way back into the game. With her team up by seven with just under three minutes left in the game, Connecticut guard Mel Thomas missed a wide open three, which would have put her team up by ten, and likely put the game out of reach. Marquette responded with a run of its own, scoring five straight on Quaye's three-pointer and two free-throws.
With twenty-six seconds left, Uconn guard Renee Montgomery missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Marquette senior Efuego Osagie-Landry grapped the rebound to set up Quaye's final shot.
"We just ran the play, Mitchell said." "It was not necessarily for a three. Christina thought she had a good look, and I am never going to hesitate with a senior."
Mitchell was guarded about her team's future.
"I just thought we were back on our heels. The same thing we discussed Tuesday night, losing at Rutgers. We were back on our heels. And that's not the way you are going to win this league. We have six games left, three at home, and three on the road. We have home games left with Lousiville and USF. We lost to those teams last year, and they went to the tournament. They took our spot in the tournament. So those are the teams we have to beat.