Senior guard Kelsey Gerdes scored the Knights’ first 10 points as she led Mater Dei (17-10) into the regional title game.
Weaving her way through the Explorers, Gerdes added three short-range jumpers in the first six minutes to help the Knights get off to an early 14-6 lead against a Marquette team that entered tournament play on a three-game winning streak.
“That’s the way Kelsey is some nights. But it hasn’t just been her. We’ve had different players step up all year and have big nights for us. Tonight it was her turn,” Mater Dei coach David Kohnen said. “But some of the credit has to go to other players as well. They realized that she (Gerdes) had the hot hand, and they got the ball to her.”
Gerdes, who was 5 for 12 from the field and 12 for 4 from the free-throw line, finished with a game-high 24 points, while Kierra Winkeler added eight. Gerdes scored 17 of her 24 points in the first half, which ended with Mater Dei leading 29-13.
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Kohnen went to his bench often in the second half as the Knights maintained a 15-to-20-point lead for much of the final two quarters.
“We played well tonight and have played well the last few games. I think our schedule that we play really helps get us ready for the postseason,” Kohnen said. “We had some turnovers in the first half and some other things that we need to clean up. But they are small things.”
Lauren Fischer led Marquette (15-13) with 10 points.
The Mater Dei-Althoff regional championship game is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Althoff Catholic High School.