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Marquette Women's Basketball Previews: vs Providence & vs Creighton

FOUR GAME HOME STAND *clap clap clapclapclap*

Still terrifying.
Still terrifying.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's possible that Marquette could equal their win total in Big East play from a year ago by the end of the weekend.

In head coach Carolyn Kieger's first season, the Golden Eagles went 4-14 in Big East action, with all four wins coming in the final eight games of the schedule.  This year, Marquette sits at 2-5 right now and will wrap up their first pass through each of their nine league opponents this weekend with two games at the McGuire Center.  I don't want to get too far out ahead of anything here, but Providence is objectively bad and Creighton has been scuffling without star guard Marissa Janning.  The opportunity is there for MU to pick up two very important home wins.

The focus, as usual, for the Golden Eagles is the play of Allazia Blockton.  The freshman from Milwaukee is tearing up the Big East, ranking second in the league in scoring and fourth in rebounds, the only Big East player to rank in the top five in both categories.  In fact, Blockton is just six-tenths of a point behind St. John's Danaejah Grant for the scoring lead.  Blockton has been honored by the conference for her play eight times this season, with five of those being Freshman of the Week awards.  She's even impressing on a national level, ranking fifth in scoring amongst freshman.

If that wasn't enough, Blockton's going to start rewriting the Marquette record books soon, possibly this weekend.  With 342 points on the season, Allazia Blockton is seven points away from tying Abbie Willenborg for the fourth most points by a freshman in Marquette history.  She's just 11 points away from tying Tammy Shain and Krystal Ellis for the second most points by a freshman.  If Blockton has a good weekend and goes well over her 19 points per game average, she has a shot at setting the freshman scoring record THIS WEEKEND.  It's currently held by Angel Robinson, who scored 399 points in the 2007-2008 season.  Blockton is just 57 points away from tying Robinson's mark.  Even if she doesn't get it this weekend, it seems almost a guarantee that Blockton will surpass Robinson during Marquette's four game homestand.

Big East Game #8: vs Providence (4-13, 0-7 Big East)

When: Friday, January 19, 2016, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: FS1 has the broadcast, or you can watch on Fox Sports Go. There's also live stats.
Special Promotions: FREE PIZZA for students attending the game!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

I don't know if it qualifies as good news for Providence, but their current losing streak is completely contained within league play.  They actually closed up non-conference action with a win over Rhode Island, and even more impressively it was on the road AND in overtime.  That means they were 4-6 when they kicked off league play against Seton Hall.  That one ended with a 10 point loss to the Pirates, and it's just been all downhill from there.  Only one of their seven losses to crack open the league schedule have been by less than 10 points, and that was somehow, inexplicably, an eight point defeat to a Xavier that's somehow making a run at the top of the league table.

Sarah Beal leads Providence in scoring at 11.8 points per game.  That doesn't sound like much and it's not: Beal ranks #19 in the league in scoring.  Yoyo Nogic, a freshman from Portugal, chips in an even 11 per contest, and that's it for double digit scorers on the roster.  Here's the thing, though: Providence goes pretty deep.  They go eight deep every single night, and only Beal plays more than 30 minutes a night.  Five of the other seven regulars play at least 20 minutes a night.  Susan Robinson Fruchtl goes deeper than that on most nights, as PC has two players that have played in 15 of their 17 contests this season.  Those two might not play all that much, but when you're running 10 players out there almost every night for at least eight minutes a game, that tends to benefit you a bit.

Not a lot, because Providence hasn't won a game in 2016, but a bit.

Officially, Providence is the worst scoring team in the conference (55 points per game), and the worst shooting team in the league (39%) overall.  Somehow, though, they're the second best three point shooting team in the conference.  This needs to be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, though, as their 36% on long range shots is entirely propped up by Nogic shooting 47% on a team high 86 attempts along with freshman guard Clara Che canning 42% on 48 attempts.  The rest of the team is shooting 18% on threes, which, maybe, might be bad.

Big East Game #9: vs Creighton (10-9, 4-3 Big East)

When: Sunday, January 21, 2016, at 2pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has your broadcast, and there's live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Item the first: We don't know whether or not Marissa Janning is going to be available for this game.  It seems like the answer is no, but I'm getting mixed messages from Omaha.  On one hand, last week head coach Jim Flanery told that he didn't want to rule out Janning playing against Providence.  On the other hand, in the same article, Flanery said that she was nowhere near ready in his eyes and the trainer's eyes.  On the same hand, three days earlier, Janning told that she can't run on a treadmill for more than a few minutes at a time.  Janning hasn't played since fracturing her fibula in Creighton's sixth game of the season, and the Jays have gone 6-7 in her absence.

Creighton did get a boost in that game against Providence, which they won by final margin of 72-48.  Brianna Rollerson, who happens to be Janning's roommate, returned to the lineup after a 16 game absence due to a Jones fracture in her foot.  She played 11 minutes off the bench, grabbing three rebounds and blocking a shot.  Rollerson, a junior from Omaha, led Creighton in rebounding last season at 7.0 caroms per game.

While that 6-7 overall record and 4-3 league record without Janning makes it seem like the Jays are just inconsistent from game to game, that's not necessarily the case.  Creighton's actually coming into the weekend on a four game winning streak.  But because y'all are smart cookies, you've already realized that means that they lost their first three Big East games.  That's kind of how things have gone with Creighton since Janning's injury.  They're either on a hot or a cold streak, losing their first four games without Janning, followed by two wins, and then the three losses to open league play, and now we're here and they're a house afire with wins over Villanova, Xavier, Butler, and Providence.

Freshman Audrey Faber has emerged as Creighton's go-to scorer this season.  She's averaging 15 points per game, the fifth best mark in the Big East.  The native of Clive, Iowa, is Creighton's most willing shooter (team high 90 three point attempts) and most accurate shooter as well (team high 49% on threes).  As a team, Creighton's going to let it fly from deep, as they average more than 22 three point attempts.  It's kind of surprising that they don't lead the Big East in that department, because CU is the only team in the league that shoots better than 36% from distance.  If you institute a minimum of one attempt per game, the Jays have FIVE - count 'em, FIVE - players shooting better than 42% from three point land this season.

In other words, feel free to leave Sydney Lamberty (27% 3PT) open to make sure everyone else is covered.