MILWAUKEE -- Although the Vanderbilt women didn't shoot the ball especially well on Thursday, the Commodores' field goal percentage wasn't what bothered head coach Melanie Balcomb.
She was far more irritated with Vanderbilt's performance on the defensive end during a surprising 80-67 loss to Marquette.
Vanderbilt fell to 7-3 and saw a two-game win streak come to an end. The Golden Eagles -- playing in front of Education Day crowd that included roughly 3,000 school-aged children -- improved to 3-7 and snapped a four-game skid.
"We kept switching defenses today -- and I think we used every defense we have," said Balcomb. "But we couldn't find one that worked. It was disappointing."
The loss marked the second straight year that the Golden Eagles have defeated Vanderbilt. Last year, Marquette overcame a 14-point first half deficit and stunned the Commodores, 82-77, in Nashville.
In Thursday's game, Marquette shot 50 percent from the floor (32-of-64) against the Commodores, which marked only the third time this season that Vanderbilt has allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better. The Commodores, conversely, shot 43 percent from the floor, including only 39 percent in the first half.
Vanderbilt's Kristen Gaffney and Rebekah Dahlman finished with 13 points each. The Commodores were once again without post players Marqu'es Webb and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, who are both sidelined with injuries.
Tia Elbert, Kenisha Bell and Apiew Ojulu scored 14 points each for Marquette, which suffered a home loss to Northern Kentucky on Monday but bounced back effectively from that loss with a big performance against the Commodores.
Marquette led 45-34 at the half and was up by as many as 17 in the second half. Vanderbilt then mounted a huge comeback, and trimmed the deficit to 69-65 after a 3-pointer by Dahlman with 4:58 to play. Marquette, however, responded with a 9-0 run to reestablish control.
"We're a young team, and we haven't been in many close games this season," said Balcomb, "so we have to learn how to keep (surging) when we make a run like that."
The Commodores endured a frustrating first half, shooting just 39 percent (9-of-23) from the floor while allowing Marquette to shoot 52 percent (52.6).
Vanderbilt's halftime deficit would have been much larger if it weren't for the Commodores' big advantage at the foul line: VU attempted 19 free throws (making 15) in the first 20 minutes; Marquette attempted only four.
Dahlman scored 10 first-half points for the Commodores, who were just 1-of-7 from 3-point range in the half.