Hard truths time: Marquette's women's hoops team lost their exhibition game against Division 2 Lewis University, 75-72.
Mitigating factors time: Marquette was without the services of Arlesia Morse, their preseason all-Big East guard, as well as returning sophomore McKayla Yentz and redshirt freshman JeTaun Rouse. Rouse isn't cleared to play after a season ending knee injury a year ago, and it's hard to say what Yentz would have contributed, as she didn't see much action last season. But Morse is a significant loss, and without her or Yentz in the lineup that left Marquette to rely on the services of three freshmen in the backcourt.
More mitigating factors: Lewis is pretty good. This was their third exhibition game against a Division 1 foe, and it was their third win. The other two were at Loyola Chicago (83-61) and Saturday afternoon against Northern Illinois (60-49). On top of that, the Flyers are ranked #9 in the country in the USA Today Division 2 coaches' poll.
So, shorthanded and inexperienced against a high quality D2 team with absolutely no fear, as everyone gets used to everyone else in head coach Carolyn Kieger's first outing on the Marquette sideline, and it turns into a three point loss. No one's going to confuse this for a good thing, but on the other side, maybe we can just chalk the whole thing up to a learning experience.
Things that could be learned in particular: Tia Elbert and Hannah Grim, both freshmen guards, can't shoot a combined 6-33 for Marquette to have a chance to win ball games. On the other hand, I'll sign up for 8-15 including 3-4 behind the arc from Kenisha Bell, the third freshman guard. Apiew Ojulu, Lauren Tibbs, and Chelsie Butler did what they could to clean up the misses from the freshman trio in the backcourt, combining for 20 of MU's 32 offensive rebounds in the game, but ultimately, it was just too many misses and too many turnovers (20 all told) for Marquette to pull out a win.
The games start counting on Saturday afternoon when Marquette plays host to UW-Green Bay. The Phoenix are the preseason favorites in the Horizon League for the sixth consecutive season after winning their 16th consecutive regular season championship last spring. It's going to take a much better effort to keep that game competitive.