Marquette guard Marissa Gama came out firing against Morris on Saturday afternoon in a non-conference contest and made the Redskins pay. Gamma scored all nine of her points in the period as the Lady Crusaders built an 11 point lead in what turned out to be a 48-40 loss for Morris.
The Redskins went on to trail by as many as 16 points in the third quarter before making a miraculous turnaround and actually leading the game by two points with 5:47 left in the game.
So what was the biggest difference?
"Early in the game we were getting caught on screens and we had been working on the flex to use it against them but we didn't execute it," Morris senior guard Sydney Corrigan said. "I think our talk in the locker room helped our intensity and our press worked a lot better in the second half."
The same sentiments were all but echoed by Marquetter coach Todd Hopkins.
"We were getting to our spots and we were not being contested. Like any other team, if you let us get to our spot, we'll hurt you," Hopkins said of the early portion of the game. "I give Morris credit. They came out in the second half with a whole new intensity and that changed the game."
Offensively Morris had early struggles, as well. The Redskins went the first quarter without a field goal, missing their first 12 shots from the floor. Only free throws by Corrigan, Leona Burton and Katie Friend accounted for the first four points. The locals then actually outscored Ottawa 12-8 in the second quarter behind five points by Friend (14 points) in the frame to stay close by half, trailing just 23-16.
"We told the girls after the game that 12 of the 32 minutes tonight cost them," Morris coach Luke Windy said. "The first quarter and the first four minutes of the third quarter. We didn't do anything different at other times, we just started executing. This is starting to sound like a broken record, but we are defeating ourselves."
The start of the third was indeed troublesome for the Redskins. Marquette again came out hot at the onset and made five of its first six field goals attempted in getting to a 33-17 lead. The game very well appeared over at that point.
"Down 16, the girls could have quit," Windy said. "But they came out and did a better job of creating turnovers and they were playing hard. They could have given up but they didn't. We came back and actually led by two at the end."
That was a 39-37 lead at 5:47 when Friend hit her final field goal of the game to cap a 9-0 run by the Redskins. In fact, it turned out to be the final field goal of the game for Morris all together as one Friend free throw was all that was left in the offensive arsenal at that point. Up until that point, two field goals by Kellen Bernickus, one by Julie Jurasits and a trey by Friend produced that spurt.
"We've won games when we were down in the fourth quarter before," Windy said. "It's not about confidence, it's about fixing mistakes. The girls have got to learn to practice better. They have to keep working and to keep pushing."
Morris is now 4-11 on the season while Marquette improves to 11-7.
"I have to give credit to my team," Hopkins said. "Three weeks ago this group would have gotten beat but now they are starting to develop some toughness."
The Redskins (9-5) got the win behind 17 points by Jessica Ponce. Additionally, Jessica Jurak had seven points, Tiffany Gonzalez five, Katherine Gallick five, Alex Kjellesvik four, Alexis Halcomb three and Bridget Gile two.