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Marquette Women's Basketball Weekend Preview: vs Providence & vs Creighton

Carolyn Kieger and the Golden Eagles look to pick up their first win in a Big East game with the first weekend of a two weekend homestand.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Once more into the breach...

It's been over four weeks since Marquette women's basketball won a game.  They won their non-conference finale against Western Illinois, and since then, it's been a series of losses to open Big East play at 0-7.  Three of the games have been categorical blowouts, one (the most recent loss to St. John's) was closer than the final score actually showed, and the final three were just generally a bummer.

This would normally be the section where I attempt to put a polish on the negativity, but I can't really do that.  I took a glance through the Big East team statistics, and other than MU having the 3rd best scoring average in the conference, there's not a lot to try to get excited about.  If you're going to click on that link, you should probably avert your eyes when you get to turnover margin.  It's not pretty.

The most positive thing I can say about MU right now is that they've got four straight home games starting tonight, and as luck would have it, the first two are against teams that have the second and third worst records in the Big East right now.  Even better, it would appear that both of them are struggling in Big East action because neither of them have been playing with the roster they expected to have at the beginning of the season.  After Sunday afternoon, we'll be at the halfway point of the league schedule, so it certainly would be nice to make the turn to the back nine with two wins in hand.

Big East Game #8: vs Providence (4-14, 1-6 Big East)

When: Friday, January 23, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home games mean free live video streaming, plus live stats.
Special Promotions: The official promotions page says "Student Welcome Back Party," but no details on that.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

The Friars come in on a seven game losing streak.  Six of those are their six Big East losses, with the seventh coming on a road trip up to Chestnut Hill to face off with Boston College.  Their lone win in Big East play came on that early December quadruple-header that Marquette missed out on.  The Friars snagged a home win against Villanova before the Wildcats managed to get back to full health, but they haven't been able to unlock a second win yet.  The last three losses have all been by single digits, including getting nipped by Seton Hall by one point.

Providence has lost all nine of their road games thus far this season, and another 10 straight more games away from Rhode Island to end last season, too.  PC has lost three straight to the Golden Eagles as well.  Marquette leads the overall series 7-3, but MU has just a 3-2 advantage in the Al McGuire Center.

Tori Rule leads a trio of Friars scoring in double digits on average, but both she and Sarah Beal have only played in four and three of PC's league games to this point.  Both women have missed each of Providence's last three games, so we'll have to wait and see if they're active for this game.  Chanise Baldwin leads Providence with 7.5 rebounds per game, the fourth best mark in the Big East, and Alexis Harris is just barely under seven caroms per contest.  Beal is the main distributor on the team, but there's six different Friars who are averaging at least one assist per game.

Big East Game #9: vs Creighton (9-9, 2-5 Big East)

When: Sunday, January 25, 2015, at 2pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home games mean free live video streaming, plus live stats.
Special Promotions: Sunday Family Funday means buy 1, get 1 for general admission tickets, or bring your church bulletin for BOGO anywhere in the building.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Last Friday, Creighton snapped a four game Big East losing streak with a 65-54 win over Providence.  Their other win came against a struggling Georgetown crew, so it seems plausible that the Jays could be in over their heads this season even with the preseason Player of the Year on the roster.

Marissa Janning, the aforementioned POTY, leads the team in scoring to this point, and she does the same in assists and minutes played, too.  She's the only Jay averaging over 30 minutes a game, she's their best shooter (38% on threes) and their most willing shooter (102 attempts, no one else has more than 72).  Add in her 4.9 rebounds per game, and she's definitely living up to her preseason billing.  But if the team is going to struggle to get wins, she doesn't stand much of a chance of getting that postseason version.

That's Janning's details for the season as a whole, though.  Perhaps that league record can be explained by her 22% shooting on threes in Big East contests, as well as averaging under 13 points per game, down from 15 overall.

Another possible flaw in what the Bluejays are doing on the court comes in how their roster has changed since the start of the season.  Both Sammy Jensen and Taylor Johnson are out for the season with knee injuries, and since they're both seniors, that's the end of their playing careers as well.  Neither one was really a key cog in the Creighton machine from a statistical standpoint, but they were both averaging more than 12 minutes per game, and Jensen was shooting 43% behind the arc in the seven games that she did see action in.