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Marquette Women's Basketball: vs Butler & vs Xavier

Let's do some work this weekend.

Sticking your tongue out at people is rude.
Sticking your tongue out at people is rude.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so last weekend wasn't a stellar accomplishment in the history of Marquette women's basketball.  Riding a five game winning streak, the longest in several years, MU went out to Georgetown and Villanova and got the clamps put on them.  Kind of a bummer from a momentum perspective, and a major bummer from a postseason view.  Georgetown and Villanova represented two of the three top 100 teams left on the schedule for the Golden Eagles, and snagging wins there would have been a big push towards the postseason, any postseason.

Let's be clear: I'm merely lamenting the loss of opportunity.  Carolyn Kieger has already pushed this team past what she accomplished in her first season on the bench.  She's doing it with a rotation that is more and more limited to five freshman and a junior that essentially never played before this season.  It would be nice to see this squad get rewarded for what they've accomplished with a postseason berth.

Anyway.  Now they're 11-13 overall, and 6-7 in league play, with five games left in the regular season.  Here's the good news: I think Marquette can win all five.  They already defeated Butler, Creighton, and Providence, and they came damn close to pulling off Ws against Xavier and DePaul, and both of those were on the road.

Allazia Blockton Watch: Her freshman scoring record is up to 445 points, and she's only 83 points away from the Big East freshman record.  Blockton owns the freshman records for field goals made (162) and free throws made (106).  She's actually sneaking up on the top 6 for free throws made by any Marquette player in a season, needing just 21 more to tie Clare Barnard and Abbie Willenborg.  The top five for points in a season is within sight, as is field goals made, but we'll revisit that next week.

Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The freshman from Green Bay needs two made triples to tie Arlesia Morse's freshman record for made three pointers in a season, and nine more attempts for Morse's record in that category.  She's 10 steals away from Tammy Shain in third place for steals by a freshman with 61.  She's also 12 made field goals away from Christine Kennedy in fourth place for freshman now that Blockton holds the record.  Maybe next week we can talk about Hiedeman's run at 400 points, as she currently has 338.

McKayla Yentz Watch: The elder stateswoman of the team, Yentz now has the third most made three pointers by a junior in MU history with 58.  She needs nine to tie Krystal Ellis for second place.

Big East Game #14: vs Butler

When: Friday, February 12, 2016, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has your streaming broadcast.  There's live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette picked up an 80-64 win over the Bulldogs on January 17th in the first meeting this season between the two squads.  Butler was a little shorthanded in the game as both Tori Schickel (illness) and Michelle Weaver (walking boot) missed the game.  Weaver has still not returned to action since then, and neither has Schickel.  Considering that Schickel wasn't even allowed to be at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the game due to her contagious nature according to the BEDN announcing crew, I hope everything is going okay for her.

You can tell that the Bulldogs miss Schickel and Weaver badly, as they have won just one time since that game against Marquette.  That W came in a 65-50 home game against Providence in their most recent outing and snapped a seven game losing streak.  I don't think that Belle Obert came back for a fifth year of college to play basketball to go through this kind of a season.  Then again, y'know, free grad school, I guess.

Without Schickel in the lineup (13.1 ppg), Blaire Langlois is Butler's leading scorer at 11.9 points per game.  Brittany Ward also averages in double digits at 10.0 for the season, and is actually Butler's non-Schickel leading scorer in conference games at 10.3 ppg.  Ward also leads the team in rebounding with Schickel indefinitely out, and Langlois is the team's assist leader at 3.2 per game.  Marquette is going to need to watch out for Belle Obert as she leads the Big East in blocked shots.

Big East Game #15: vs Xavier (17-6, 8-4)

When: Sunday, February 14, 2016, at 1:30pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: FS2 has your broadcast, with streaming on Fox Sports GoLive stats, too.
Special Promotions: It's the yearly Play 4 Kay game, so admission is $2 if you wear pink.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Earlier this season, Marquette wiped out a 16 point first half deficit against the Musketeers, tying the game with 7:32 remaining.  The Golden Eagles never got a lead, though, and Xavier got the 71-66 victory.  They did have a slim chance at forcing overtime after Natisha Hiedeman hit a triple with 12 seconds left, but that only cut the lead to three and Raeshaun Gaffney drained both of her free throws when MU fouled to extend the game.

The Musketeers followed up that win over Marquette by dropping their next three games to the three teams that you would expect them to lose to this season: DePaul, Seton Hall, and St. John's, with the last two coming on the road.  They followed up that losing streak by winning their next three against Butler, Providence, and Creighton, and that's the streak they're on coming into the weekend.  They'll be in Chicago to take on DePaul on Friday night before coming to Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, so we'll see if they can maintain that winning streak after playing the 1st place Blue Demons.

No one's going to confuse Xavier with a high powered offense.  They're eighth in the Big East in points per game, and their leading scorer is Gaffney at 12 points per game.  She does have two other double digit scorers right behind her in Briana Glover (11.0 ppg) and Aliyah Zantt (10.5 ppg).  They're low scoring, but they're also not particularly efficient, either.  They're scoring 92 points per 100 possessions this season, which isn't all that great.  Luckily, their defense is even better, holding opponents to the second lowest scoring average in the league (58.7 ppg) and allowing just 87 points per 100 possessions.

Xavier is one of the better rebounding teams in the league, but they do it as a group.  Gaffney is the team leader at 4.8 per game, and that's not good enough to get her into the top 20 in the league.  Five more Musketeers are averaging more than four rebounds per game, which is how they end up in the top half of the league in terms of rebounding.