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Marquette Women's Basketball Preview: vs #7 Oregon State

The Golden Eagles have a tall task in front of them as they return to the McGuire Center for the first time in five games.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Over the weekend, Marquette won two games in a row for the third time under second year head coach Carolyn Kieger.  They have never won three straight games under Kieger's guidance.

Tonight's game against Oregon State isn't looking good to change that trend.

Stranger things have happened, though, as Marquette pulled an upset of a ranked Seton Hall team at the McGuire Center late last season.  That was part of a trend where Marquette had started to split their weekend Big East contests after losing their first 10 in league play last season.  At the time, I considered it to be a sign of growth under Kieger.  That growth was ultimately thrown into the nearest recycling basket when four players transferred out, but the point that Kieger had it going in the right direction still remains.

The question here is whether or not she's done enough with this essentially freshman only team this early in the season to keep them competitive with a top 10 team.  What we do know is that Allazia Blockton has seized on the available role of the team's best player.  The freshman from Milwaukee is leading MU in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg) and is coming off her first ever Big East Weekly Honor Roll appearance.

With the development of Blockton as well as Natisha Hiedeman as scorers for the Golden Eagles, it's easy to overlook the fact that McKayla Yentz has suddenly turned into a devastating three point threat.  The junior from Sun Prairie is 15-30 from long range through six games, and she came into the season as a career 21% shooter.  I'd settle for somewhere in the middle, but if she wants to keep knocking 'em down at that rate, that's fine by me, too.

Game #7: vs #7 Oregon State (5-0)

When: Thursday, December 3, 2015, at 6pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Go.  Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: Bring a toy to donate and get 2 for 1 admission!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

While the Beavers are undefeated through five games this season, they haven't seen a quick ascendance to the number seven spot in the Associated Press poll.  They started the season at #10, and as is usually the case with women's basketball, it's an extremely top heavy sport and there's little chance to move up early in the season.  That's not to say that they haven't been dominant in their five wins.  Their margin of victory has only slipped below 21 once, and there are some pretty solid reasons for that one.  That game was in the championship of the San Juan Shootout and it was both their only contest against a major conference opponent (Arkansas) and it was the second game of a back to back.  You probably also can't discount the fact that San Juan is in Puerto Rico, and thus is four full time zones ahead of Corvallis.

As you might expect from that #10 ranking to start the season, Oregon State is the pick to win the Pac 12 this season, and they were the unanimous pick to do so.  They finished 27-5 a year ago, winning the Pac 12 regular season title along the way.  OSU advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Gonzaga and were denied the second Sweet 16 appearance in school history.

If Marquette wants to pull the stunning upset, they're going to have to do one thing very, very well: Defend the three pointer.  Nearly 30% of OSU's field goal attempts come from long range, and they're burying 46% of their attempts.  The main reasons for the proficiency are Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese, who have combined to shoot 54 of Oregon State's 87 three point attempts this season.  Weisner leads the team in scoring, largely because she's shooting 60% on threes.

Yeah.  60%.  15-25.

Here's the crazy thing: SHE'S NOT THE GOOD SHOOTER.  Wiese, who is splashing triples at a 48.3% clip this season, is already OSU's all time leader in three pointers made, and she's only a junior.  The really crazy part is that Weisner and Wiese aren't the best players on the team.  That honor goes to center Ruth Hamblin, who was named Pac 12 Player of the Year by the media and Defensive Player of the Year by both media and coaches vote last season.  Wrap your head around that one.