Marquette has three players averaging more than 13 points per game AND more than five rebounds per game. Two of those players are averaging more than three assists per game.
All three players provide incredibly different dimensions to the team, as well. Allazia Blockton is a power wing, comfortable running the floor, shooting jumpers, or taking it inside for the difficult baskets. Natisha Hiedeman is a wildfire on the court, forcing turnovers, getting out on the break, making the clever pass, and raining down threes like it’s going out of style. Erika Davenport has an otherworldly touch around the rim, allowing her to score at will as well as come up with rebounds in seemingly impossible ways on both ends of the court. You can’t even fault her for not keeping up with Blockton and Hiedeman on the passing stage because if Davenport gets the ball, it’s because she’s two feet away and she needs to shoot it. Even with that being the case, she’s still averaging an assist and a half per game.
That’s without even getting into Amani Wilborn’s athleticism, McKayla Yentz’s shooting and defense, and Danielle King’s complete lack of fear as the smallest player on the court. When this team is on - and they’ve been on since before 2016 started - they are a treat to watch and at 8-2 on the season, they are building up a head of steam to do some real damage when Big East play starts next week.
This is important, because they will play eight of their 18 Big East games between now and when spring semester classes start. They’ll see every team in the league except for travel partner DePaul in a 19 day stretch which will not be a picnic on any level. It could honestly determine who ends up with the regular season title, since everyone else in the league is doing roughly the same slate. The good news about all of this is that at least Marquette won’t have to run the league’s worst road trip in that stretch. Providence and Creighton will both come to Milwaukee in early January, although that is the first road trip up for Marquette once they wrap up their first pass through the league with a short jaunt to see the Blue Demons.
One last thing: Allazia Blockton leads the Big East in scoring by exactly two points per game. She’s 14th in rebounding and 11th in assists. Blockton’s on pace to finish the year with 1,116 career points, which would make her MU’s 21st best scorer in program history. She’s currently a sophomore.
Game #11: vs New Mexico (4-5)
When: Wednesday, December 21, 2016, at 11:30am
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has the free video streaming & live stats.
Special Promotion: It’s Milwaukee Public Schools Day at the Al, so the building will be packed with elementary school kids who will be cheering their heads off for the Golden Eagles.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 0-1 all time against New Mexico. The only meeting came back on New Year’s Eve in 1995 with MU taking the 73-71 loss in Milwaukee.
Upon digging in to learn about the Lobos for this preview, I immediately discovered that I don’t even think the Mountain West Conference knows what to make of this team. They were picked to finish sixth in the 11 team league this season, which is fine. However, they picked up one of the 29 first place votes in a combination of the head coaches and selected media that voted. Again: They finished sixth. With a first place vote. This, in a league where Colorado State has won back to back regular season titles. They rightly got 17 first place votes and the nod as the league favorite, and you can’t really fault any of the 11 people who voted for Boise State, who finished in second behind the Rams.
And yet, someone voted for New Mexico, with the Lobos coming off of a 17-15 season with a 9-9 record in league play. Sure, they got to play in the WBI, which is one step down from the WNIT, but they also lost their first round game to Weber State. At home.
The Lobos do have some notable talent on this team. Cherise Benyon was named to the five player preseason all-Mountain West team, and she’s living up to the hype. She’s second on the team in scoring, third in rebounding, and leads New Mexico in assists at eight per game. 6’5” senior Richelle van der Keijl is the team leader in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double with 16.8 points and nearly 11 rebounds every time out. Freshman Mykiel Burleson was named preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year, and she’s doing well. She’s started eight of their nine games, and averaging 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
MU might catch a tiny break in terms of crowd support from this game being Milwaukee Public Schools Day at the McGuire Center. Senior forward Kianna Keller hails from Waukesha, and it’s obviously a rare treat for her to get to play so close to home. With an 11:30 tip and an arena jammed with school kids, I don’t know how many of Keller’s friends and family will make it to the game.