Last year’s game against Arizona State was the last in a six game stretch that made me realize that head coach Carolyn Kieger was getting her freshman laden team organized quickly. After starting out 0-4, the Golden Eagles won the FIU Thanksgiving tournament, then went 2-2 in their next four games with the losses coming against nationally ranked powers Oregon State and the aforementioned Sun Devils. They lost by just seven to the Beavers and by only 10 to ASU.
I say only 10 because the Golden Eagles trailed #21 Arizona State by 21 points with three minutes left in the third quarter before getting it down to single digits with five minutes left in the game. Eight minutes of basketball, 12 point swing. The lead never got closer than eight, but it also showed that this team wasn’t going to just roll over and take a blowout loss.
Flash forward to now, and it’s Arizona State’s turn to visit the McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles were picked to finish third in the Big East this season, and there’s more than enough reason to believe that they can return to the NCAA tournament. After a shelling of Longwood in the opener, and a bananas rally to boot St. Francis out of the gym with relative ease back on Tuesday, Marquette’s ready to make a statement that they do belong as a contender, both in their own conference and in the NCAA tournament picture.
There’s nothing that would make that statement better than slapping up a win over a nationally ranked opponent. Marquette wasn’t that far from getting that win a year ago. This team is better now, and there’s no reason to believe that they can’t get the W.
Game #3: vs #18 Arizona State (2-0)
When: Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 2pm CT
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has the free video stream & the live stats.
Special Promotions: GOLD OUT! Wear your gold attire or get there early! First 500 fans get a gold MU Tshirt.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
This is the fourth meeting between the two programs. The Sun Devils hold a 2-1 series lead to this point with each of the first three games being played in Tempe, AZ.
The Sun Devils are undefeated thus far this season, although this will be the first time they’ve left the comfy environs of the desert. Their first two games of the year were incredibly easy affairs for them, as they’ve yet to let an opponent score more than 40 points and yet to score fewer than 75 for themselves.
Nothing about this should be surprising, of course. Arizona State is picked to finish fourth in the Pac 12 this season, although they did get one first place vote. Even picked to finish that low in their conference, they still started out the season nationally ranked to give you an idea of how deep that conference is this year. The Sun Devils are coming off a season where they finished with a record of 26-7 and finished second in the Pac 12 with a 16-2 record in league play. They were the #2 seed in their NCAA tournament region but were upset by Tennessee in the second round.
If you wanted to tell me that the reason for the blowouts to open the year is because they’re pissed off about that tournament ouster, I’d believe you.
Both of ASU’s leading scorers are back from last season, but that’s not really telling you much. Sophie Brunner was the only double digit scorer for the Sun Devils a year ago, and Quinn Dornstauder averaged 9.7. This year, Brunner’s back on top again.... averaging 9 points per game. “How are they blowing teams out like that,” you ask? Well, she’s actually tied for the lead at nine points a game with two more players, and six more players are averaging at least five points. That sounds like a nightmare to defend, but probably a ton of fun for Charli Turner Thorne to coach.
The most interesting battle of the game might be on the boards. ASU is outrebounding opponents by 22 per game at this point, but Marquette is not going to go quietly into the night with a +16 rebounding margin.