GLADSTONE - The Gladstone Braves frustrated Marquette for long stretches with tenacious defense Tuesday evening in the Great Northern Conference opener for both teams.
But chalk it up to experience. The Redettes had considerably more and it showed at key times down the stretch in their 45-37 victory.
The Redettes led from late in the first quarter until the end, but it wasn't easy. Each time Marquette got a little breathing room, inching ahead by five or six points, the Braves went on mini-runs to tie the game up. However, they never overtook Marquette's lead.
Paul Gerard photo
Gladstone’s Alison Austin gets a shot off in the first half Tuesday night as Marquette’s Lydia Kurin defends. The Redettes won 45-37
Paul Gerard photo
Gladstone’s Alexis St. Cyr (5) races down the court toward the basket with Marquette defender Hunter Viitala guarding her?Tuesday night at Gladstone.
"We were in a similar situation last Friday (at the St. Ignace Invitational)/ We never had a six point lead, but we had a two point lead and needed to handle it better," said Marquette coach Ben Smith. "Having that experience under our belts is enough to make you relax and handle it. Ball fakes, being strong with the ball, and the last resort is throwing it. If you're inexperienced and unconfident, you're going to throw it around. I think Liana (Storm) did a good job slowing things down for everybody. We had some timeouts too, which was nice, because we could get things settled."
The Braves were torched in the first half for 14 points by Marquette's Hunter Viitala and the Redettes led 20-17 going into halftime. To the Braves credit, they made the necessarily adjustments on Viitala in the second half, holding her to five points. She has a game-high 19 points, including three triples, and was the go-to player when the Redettes needed a big play.
Elizabeth Kurin added 12 points with eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks for the Redettes. Morgan Seibert had nine rebounds and Liana Storm dished out six assists.
Marquette 9 11 12 13 - 45
Gladstone 8 9 13 7 - 37
Marquette - Viitala 19, Beckwith 6, Storm 2, Seibert 4, Iwanski 2, E. Kurin 12; FT: 12-15; F: 17; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Viitala 3, Beckwith.
Gladstone - Austin 6, St. Cyr 2, Strasser 3, Wulf 3, Jensen 11, Sharon 3, Beaudry 7, Hongisto 2; FT: 9-22; F: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: None.
"Hunter played really well for them," said Gladstone coach Karl Dollhopf. "She shot the ball well, she didn't force a lot in the second half. We held her in the second half but have up too many in the first, but it was also our first opportunity to see them play."
Gladstone's offense was scattered and far more sporadic. Marquette shut down Alexis St. Cyr, the Braves scoring leader through the first two games, holding her to two points. Callie Jensen stepped up and took the open shots presented to her, coming away with a team-high 11 points and three steals. Jessica Beaudry had her best game of the early season as well, scoring seven points with five rebounds.
"Jess is gradually getting more minutes and did some nice things tonight. She hit a couple open shots and took some charges defensively," said Dollhopf. "Callie Jensen played well. She had a couple turnovers traveling, but that's good pressure by Marquette. I like the fact that she's looking at the basket offensively. That's what we need from our guards."
Smith said, he wasn't singularly focused on stopping St. Cyr but rather focused on controlling the game from the boards.
"We kind of knew Gladstone's tendencies, but we knew whoever was open would try to score," Smith said. "St. Cyr had 11 points in the first quarter against Gwinn, so you obviously have to find her, but you also have to find Beaudry and (Lexi) Hongisto. Everyone is going to square up and look to score so we try and guard everyone and overplay when you can, but locking down the boards is one of the things we knew we had to do or else they were going to get putback bunnies ore free throw chances we couldn't afford to let them have.
"I thought we did a pretty good job. A few times we got a little lax, but Gladstone plays so hard, if you fall asleep once, they're going to smash after it."
The Redettes were without Courtney LaFreniere, as they have been all season as she recovers from a torn ACL suffered in June.
Despite the Braves offensive struggles, they were able to stay in the game until the end, pulling within 32-30 entering the fourth quarter. Marquette however gained a nine-point advantage by hitting their free throws down the stretch.
"I couldn't believe the opportunities we had presented to us," said Dollhopf. "Defensively we did some really good things. We just weren't able to capitalize on some of their turnovers and come back. We were searching for some type of offense and never got it. But there were opportunities, and that's a positive for us."
The Marquette jayvees rolled 71-36 while the Gladstone freshmen clipped the Redettes 40-39.
Both teams resume Thursday. Gladstone (1-2, 0-1 GNC) visits Ishpeming while Marquette (1-2, 1-0 GNC) hosts Westward.