3:00 PM ET, December 17, 2006
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Krystal Ellis and her Marquette teammates weren't going to take anything for granted.The sophomore guard scored 19 of her 29 points in the first half and tied her college high to lead Marquette (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) to its ninth straight win Sunday, a 74-60 victory over Gonzaga.Ellis, Marquette's leading scorer averaging 16.4 points, scored 11 points in a 25-8 run midway through the first half. The sophomore guard's two free throws gave the Golden Eagles a 31-16 lead with 7:28 to play and padded the double-digit lead."We also have been down 20 points and came back to win," Ellis said. "So, we knew that we couldn't let our composure go. We knew that if at anytime we let down that they would come back on us, and we didn't want that to happen."Christina Quaye added 12 points and Svetlana Kovalenko had 11 of her 12 points in the decisive first half of Marquette's first game after eight days off.Marquette (10-1) tied the women's record for consecutive victories set during the 1991-92 season. Its only loss this season was to Wisconsin-Green Bay 67-63 on Nov. 20.Stephanie Hawk scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half to lead Gonzaga. Michelle Elliott and reserve Rachel Kane each had 11 for Gonzaga (7-7) in the first meeting between the two universities.Kovalenko, a forward who had four points during the surge, later converted a three-point play for Marquette's biggest lead at 41-23. Her layup just before the buzzer put the Golden Eagles ahead 48-32."I think it was just a tale of two halves," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. "We gave up 48 points in the first half and just let them do whatever they wanted. And, then, quick frankly, the second half, just a different team."Gonzaga outscored Marquette 28-26 in the second half, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Bulldogs' poor first half."You just can't dig yourself a hole against a good team like this," he said after Gonzaga played its second road game in three days.Marquette coach Terri Mitchell cautioned her team as they went to the locker room leading 49-32 at the half."We knew going into halftime that they weren't going to back off from us," she said. "They've played national competition, so what we did in the first half wasn't going to phase them."Marquette maintained its double-digit lead in the second half before Gonzaga made it close midway through the second. Kane's 3-pointer capped a 9-3 run that trimmed Marquette's lead to 61-50 with 5:26 to play. Danielle Kamm's two free throws and a layup by Ellis stopped the rally and pushed the Golden Eagles' lead back to 15."She's a good player," Graves said of Ellis. "We obviously didn't have any answer for her."The Golden Eagles padded their first-half lead at the foul line, where they were 12-for-14. The Bulldogs were just 3-of-5.