Score: No. 10 Marquette 66, No. 15 Pittsburgh 43
Stars: Marquette: Katie Young 11 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast. Katherine Plouffe 10 Pts, 9 Reb. Pittsburgh:Brianna Kiesel 12 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast.
Story: Earlier this season, Marquette coach Terri Mitchell complained about the Big East schedule pitting her team against UConn twice, saying that it was unfair to her team.
Of course, UConn won both matchups in blowouts. But on Friday, it was Marquette blowing out the competition.
The Golden Eagles routed ACC-bound Pittsburgh 66-43 in the first round of the Big East Championship, advancing to play No. 7 DePaul in the second round on Saturday.
The game started out closer than expected, but Marquette hit its stride midway through the first half and never looked back.
Marquette took a 34-22 lead into the half, thanks in part to a dominant inside game. At halftime, the Golden Eagles held a 26-16 rebounding advantage and outscored Pittsburgh 24-12 in the paint.
Katherine Plouffe got big for Marquette in the paint, leading the way with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Marquette rotated and had an incredible balance of scoring, meaning Katie Young needed only 11 points to become the Golden Eagle's leading scorer. It is the first time Young has been in double figures since Jan. 22 against Louisville.
"I thought [rotating] was extremely important," Mitchell said. "You're going to do what you need to do in a game to win, but I thought the way we played, it was getting people in and out, we had good rhythm, we're used to playing each other. In any given game there's going to be people to step up. Our scoring was very balanced. I don't think we're a team of superstars. I think we're a team of hard-working individuals that find each other very extremely unselfish and do what we need to do. So I was really happy with that in looking at our minutes and how we distributed them tonight."
Pittsburgh's time in the Big East has come to an end, and the Panthers will begin play in the ACC next season. Coach Agnus Berenato and sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel praised the Big East as the best conference in college basketball, but that it is time for both the Big East and Pittsburgh to move on.
"In the Big East there's been a lot of good players that I've seen...I've learned a lot from the players that I've played against," Kiesel said. "Although we didn't do as well as we'd have liked to, I think, us as a team, we grew in the last two years we've been here, and I'm looking forward to next year. Now I have two years in the Big East and I know what the Big East is like. Now I have two years in the ACC to see what that's gonna be like."
Tomorrow's matchup against DePaul will be the third matchup of Catholic 7 schools at the Big East Tournament. Georgetown and Providence played in the first round while Seton Hall will meet St. John's on Saturday.