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Women's Basketball Big East Game 16 Preview: At St. John's (19-7, 12-3)

Three games left. Three of the four teams ahead of MU in the standings. Let's go.

St. John's mascot Johnny Thunderbird.  I'm as surprised as you are.
St. John's mascot Johnny Thunderbird. I'm as surprised as you are.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

When: Wednesday, February 26, at 6pm Central
Where: Carnesecca Arena in Queens, NY
Audio/Visual: Due to St. John's goofball contract with ESPN, you can fire up your WatchESPN app and stream the game on ESPN3. You can get live stats here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Seton Hall's unrelenting defensive pressure forced Marquette into turning the ball over on nearly 24% of their possessions back on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates' defense caused the Golden Eagles to throw away a 17 point second half lead and ultimately fall to Seton Hall in overtime.

It was a rather unfortunately timed loss. With St. John's falling to 12-3 in league play, Marquette could have moved to 10-5 with three games to play, including this one against the Red Storm. With the other two games coming against second place Creighton and fourth place Villanova, Marquette could have found themselves in a significant position to actually find a way to steal the regular season title. Now, not so much at 9-6. In fact, with Seton Hall occupying seventh place in the league at 7-8, Marquette has yet to guarantee their way out of the Saturday night doubleheader at Phillips-McGrath Arena that will kick off the Big East tournament.

And yet, a tie for first place with the Red Storm is still on the table for Katherine Plouffe and crew. Crazy conference, huh? But it starts tonight in Queens.

The Red Storm had been chugging along pretty well this season. They had won 11 straight, and 14 of 15. Their winning streak had poked them into the Associated Press' Top 25 at #22. And then they went on a two game road trip which turned horrifying. First, St. John's traveled to Washington, D.C., where a dead cold shooting night and crazy offensive rebounding by Georgetown turned into a 60-57 loss for just the third win of the year in league play for the Hoyas and ninth overall. Then, five days later, they found themselves in D.J. Sokol Arena, and just ask Marquette volleyball and women's hoops how that building can go for you on your first trip. Creighton built themselves a 20 point lead with just under 11 minutes left, and only a buzzer beater by SJU's Keylantra Langley made the final margin only three points.

So yeah, they're probably really annoyed right now.

The first time these two teams tangled, Marquette turned the ball over 25 times and lost by two.

I'm going to let that sink in for a moment. How often can you say about a game, "Boy, if only they had just turned it over 20 times, they would have really run away with that victory?"

The whole game was a turnover festival, as the teams combined to cough it up 47 times, for a combined turnover rate of nearly 33%. Almost one-third of the game was a team throwing the ball away, and usually not to an opponent, as there were just 19 combined steals. If nothing else, hopefully we get a slightly better basketball game to watch this evening.

Aliyyah Handford was my pick as the leader for Big East Player of the Year a little while back, and so far, she's held up to her end of the deal. She still leads St. John's in scoring, averaging 16 points per game, sixth most in the Big East. The sophomore is second on the team in rebounds as well, trailing only the 9.1 per game that junior forward Amber Thompson collects. Danejah Grant had to sit out until late December as a transfer from Clemson, but she managed to be the only other Red Storm player to average double digits in points in her limited time with the team, and she's doing it off the bench as well. Only freshman Aaliyah Lewis cracks the top 15 in the Big East in assists with 2.6 per game, but that's a technicality. Redshirt senior Eugeneia McPherson missed the first nine games of the season due to injury, and because she hasn't played 75% of St. John's games so far this season, her 4.3 assists per game don't show up on the leaderboard in the #6 slot that they deserve.