Not just the worst road trip in the Big East, the worst version of the worst road trip in the Big East.
The Big East uses traveling partners for women's basketball. For example, when Marquette was hosting Butler last Friday, DePaul was hosting Xavier. After Friday's games, Butler and Xavier switched spots for Sunday. The problem with this setup is that there's three pairs of teams that make perfect sense: Marquette/DePaul, Seton Hall/St. John's, and Butler/Xavier. A fourth pairing makes a lot of sense: Villanova/Georgetown. It's not perfect, but it's fine.
That leaves Providence and Creighton as the final pairing. This is not great. It's the eastern most school partnered with the western most school. You have to traverse the entirety of the geographical footprint of the Big East when going from one city to the other. To make matters worse, Marquette will be going the wrong way on their trip. By starting in Omaha and then going to Providence after Friday night's game, the Golden Eagles will lose an hour by moving from the Central time zone to the Eastern zone. Those lucky jerks at DePaul are going to gain an hour by going from Rhode Island to Nebraska.
I don't really have a good solution for this. Unless the Big East expands (and I don't want this to happen), this is what we're stuck with.
THE POINT IS that Marquette can clinch a winning record in conference play by winning both of these games this weekend, but they have to do it through the worst possible travel arrangements to get through these two games. Head coach Carolyn Kieger has already doubled MU's Big East win total from a year ago by going from four to eight, and they've still got three games left to play.
Allazia Blockton Watch: With Marquette's freshman records for points, field goals made, and field goals attempted already in hand, the freshman from Milwaukee has other things in her sights. For example, she's only 44 points away from Kerri Chatten's Big East freshman record of 528 points. Blockton averages 18.6 points per game, so 22 per game in the two games this weekend isn't completely out of reach. She's 83 points away from breaking into the top 5 scoring seasons in Marquette history, and with four guaranteed games left, that's possible. Along the way, she's probably get into the top 5 for field goals made (28 away) and the top 6 for free throws made is even easier (15 away).
Also, as a reminder: Blockton leads the Big East this season in 20+ point games, 10+ rebound games, and double-doubles.
Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The freshman from Green Bay is your new Marquette freshman three point champ! She eclipsed Arlesia Morse's records for three-pointers made and attempted back on Friday night against Butler. Hiedeman now sits with 61 makes on 173 attempts, which has her just a few tenths short of the top three for three point percentage as a freshman. She needs two more steals to tie Tammy Shain at 61 for the third most steals as a freshman, and four made field goals to tie Christine Kennedy for the fourth most FGs made by a freshman. Hiedeman is up to 370 points on the season, and with an average of over 14 points per game, she's got a real shot at joining Blockton as the only MU freshmen to ever score 400 points by the time the weekend is over.
Erika Davenport Watch: Speaking of Christine Kennedy with the fourth most made field goals as a freshman, Davenport is seven made FGs from tying that mark. That one just kind of snuck up on me a little bit, but she's averaging more than five makes per game, so it seems she'll get there by the time MU arrives back in Milwaukee on Sunday night.
McKayla Yentz Watch: The Sun Prairie native's 63 made three pointers are still the third most by a Marquette junior. She's four away from tying Krystal Ellis for the second most triples by a junior, which would also be the sixth most in any season by any MU player.
Big East Game #16: at Creighton (12-14, 6-8 Big East)
When: Friday, February 19, 2016, at 7pm Central
Where: D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, NE
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the broadcast. The Jays say go here for live stats, but that page also says "not meant to be shared with the public viewing audience."
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
When Marquette met up with Creighton the first time this season, the big news was whether or not star guard Marissa Janning would return from her fractured fibula this season. That question has been answered, and it is officially a "no."
Creighton was wobbling back and forth between wins and losses after losing Janning to injury before the first meeting with the Jays, and that hasn't changed since then. Creighton went win-loss-win in the next three games after falling to Marquette on January 24th, but they've dropped each of their last two games to end up two games under .500 overall and in league play this season. From taking a glance at the scores, they were murderously dull games for the most part. I'm judging this completely by the final scores, mind you, because the highest scoring game was the most recent one, a 61-59 loss to Providence. Maybe the games were exciting at the end because they were close, but there was not all that much scoring, so that's a bummer to watch.
Creighton continues to be the best three point shooting team in the Big East, but oddly, they're not the most prolific three point shooting team. Even though they're canning triples at a rate of 37%, they've still taking more than 120 fewer than DePaul, the Big East's leader in three point attempts. Maybe pace of play is a factor here, but you'd think a team with five players shooting better than 40% and averaging at least one attempt per game would shoot a lot more three pointers.
Audrey Faber continues on with one of the most pointlessly outstanding freshman campaigns that you'll ever see. Not because Creighton's scuffling this season, but because she has absolutely no hope of beating out Allazia Blockton for Freshman of the Year. Faber leads Creighton in scoring at 13.5 points per game, and she's their most willing three point shooter, leading the team with 118 attempts on the season. Faber is one of the five shooting over 40%, ranking second on the team at 42%. She's tied for the team lead in rebounding at 4.5/game with Jade Owens, and Faber's 56 assists are nothing to sneeze at, even if she does trail Owens (84) and Sydney Lamberty (73) in that column.
Big East Game #17: at Providence (5-19, 1-13 Big East)
When: Sunday, February 21, 2016, at 12pm Central
Where: Alumni Hall in Providence, RI
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the broadcast, plus there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Shoutout to the Friars, who picked up their first win in league play last weekend. They got the 61-59 win over Creighton after leading by 10 in the fourth quarter. A turnover by Evi Iiskola gave the Jays one last chance to win it with nine seconds left, but Sydney Lamberty's layup missed and PC wrapped up the rebound to end the game. The win snapped a 13 game losing streak, with all of the losses coming in league play.
When these two teams met in Milwaukee earlier this season, the Golden Eagles went crazy on the Friars in a 105-75 win, which is still the high water mark of the season in the Big East for points in a game. Maddie Jolin and Sarah Beal both hit 20 points in the game, but Marquette overwhelmed PC with their relative depth. Seven Marquette players scored in double digits in that game, led by 18 from Natisha Hiedeman.
The Friars haven't finished a season with more than 10 wins since 2011-12 when they went 13-17 after a first round loss to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, and this year's not looking good for them, either. They're dead last in the Big East in points per game, and second to last in points allowed per game. In an odd twist of fate, Marquette is actually the team that's allowing more points than the Friars. The difference here is that Marquette playing much faster than Providence and allows nearly eight more possessions per game.
Junior guard Sarah Beal is leading the offense for Providence at 10.9 points per game. Here's the deal, though: If she wants to shoot three pointers, let her go nuts. She's shooting 9 for 48 this season, which, at 19%, is bad. Beal rebounds her position well, sitting second overall on the team in boards to Aliyah Miller's 5.3 caroms per game. Beal is also the team's leader in assists, dishing 3.2 helpers on average.