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Marquette Women's Basketball Preview: vs #19 DePaul

Only one game remains in the regular season: a return bout with the Blue Demons, who have moved back into the top 25 since we last saw them.

I got tired of the one good picture of DePaul's mascot I have, so here's Blue Demons head coach Doug Bruno.
I got tired of the one good picture of DePaul's mascot I have, so here's Blue Demons head coach Doug Bruno.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette is 9-8 in Big East play this season.  They've already clinched at least a .500 record after going 4-14 a year ago and completely redoing the roster since then.  They currently sit in fifth place in the Big East, and they have only Saturday's contest against DePaul remaining, while the rest of the league (except DePaul) will play two games this weekend.

Because there's so much bunching in the middle of the league, Marquette could theoretically finish anywhere from a tie for second place in the Big East to a tie for seventh.  The goal should be to finish sixth or higher to avoid the first day doubleheader in the Big East tournament.  All Marquette can do is play their one game and then hope things work out around them.  If MU were to defeat the Blue Demons, they would clinch a spot in the top six for sure.

I know what you're saying: DePaul?  But they're ranked!  They clinched the #1 seed with three games to play and the outright league title with two to play!  Sure.  But Marquette also had a chance to tie them with just seconds left in the conference season opener for both squads back in December after leading by just one point with 1:41 left in the game.  This, after the Golden Eagles trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter.

This team has grown leaps and bounds in the 16 games since then.  They've figured themselves and each other out to an amazing degree when you consider that the seven player rotation consists of five freshmen.  Of course, one of those freshmen, Allazia Blockton, is my pick to win Big East Player of the Year - not Freshman, PLAYER of the Year - so perhaps things are really coming together for head coach Carolyn Kieger in her second campaign.

All they can control is the 40 minutes against #19 DePaul.  40 minutes in the Al McGuire Center, 40 minutes on National Marquette Day, 40 minutes where you can get in free if you bring your ticket from the men's game against Villanova from earlier in the day.  Can they beat the 2015-16 Big East regular season Blue Demons?  Sure can.

Allazia Blockton Watch: Blockton needs 14 points to tie Kerri Chatten's Big East freshman record of 528 points, set in 1994-95.

She averages 18.4 points per game.  This record will fall on Saturday evening.

She's now 53 points away from breaking into the top 5 scoring seasons in Marquette history.  MU is going to need at least a second Big East tournament game for Blockton to have a chance at that, I think.  Along the way, she would probably get into the top 5 for field goals made (17 away) and the top 6 for free throws made is even easier (9 away).

Natisha Hiedeman Watch: Already holding MU's freshman records for three pointers made and attempted  Hiedeman now sits with 64 makes on 183 attempts, which has her just a few tenths short of the top three for three point percentage as a freshman. She now has the third most steals by a freshman with 62, and her next made field goal will tie Angel Robinson for the fourth most FGs made by a freshman. Hiedeman is up to 389 points on the season, so with a nifty 11 point game against the Blue Demons, Hiedeman will join Blockton as the only MU freshmen to ever score 400 points in a season.

Erika Davenport Watch: Last week, Erika Davenport was chasing behind Natisha Hiedeman on the freshman field goals made chart.  Davenport averaged 22 points last weekend, so now her 148 FGMs trail only Tammy Shain and Allazia Blockton.  At 59.0% FG% on the season, she's only one-tenth of a percentage point behind the freshman shooting record, which also happens to be Marquette's all time single season record.  She's also 22 points away from becoming just the sixth freshman to ever score 350 points.  Yes, two of the previous five are Blockton and Hiedeman.

McKayla Yentz Watch: The Sun Prairie native is now Marquette's all time leading junior three point shooter with 69 made triples this season.  That ties Marquette legend Kristen Maskala for the 4th most in any season by a MU shooter, although I don't know if she can catch Lori Goerlitz's single season record of 91 made threes.  Kelly Schwerman is in third place with 70, though, and that will fall against the Blue Demons for sure.  Her 186 three point attempts are only the third most by a junior and don't even crack the top five for any season.  Her 37.1% completion rate on threes ranks third amongst juniors, but she's got waaaaaay more attempts than the two women in front of her.

Big East Game #18: vs #19 DePaul (23-7, 15-2 Big East)

When: Saturday, February 27, 2016, at 5pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the video broadcast, plus there's live stats.
Special Promotions: Bring your ticket from the men's game vs Villanova from earlier in the day and GET IN FOR FREE!  Plus it's Fan Appreciation Day, where you can win all sorts of cool stuff, including 2016-17 tickets.  PLUS FRISBEE DOGS AT HALFTIME.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Well, what's happened since the last time that we saw the Blue Demons?  As it turns out, the whole damn conference season happened.  Marquette and DePaul squared off at McGrath-Phillips Arena back on December 30 for the first conference game for both squads.  DePaul prevailed, 91-86, after the Golden Eagles took a late lead against them and squandered a chance to tie the game with just seconds left.  Since than win, the Blue Demons have gone 14-2 in league play and have already locked up their third straight regular season title.  Oddly, both of the losses were at home: first to Villanova on January 10th, then to Seton Hall on January 29th.  They haven't lost since, going 7-0 heading into Saturday's regular season finale.

DePaul is 10-3 on the road this season, which includes their eight Big East wins.  The losses?  At #5 Baylor, at #3 Notre Dame, and.... at South Dakota State?  What?  Well, that's not that odd, since the Jackrabbits are 22-6 and in second place in the Summit League to the South Dakota squad that defeated Marquette earlier this season.  Still, they haven't lost a road game since that trip to Brookings, South Dakota, back on December 15th.  In other words?  They're due.

The Blue Demons have three legitimate candidates for Big East Player of the Year on the roster.  Chanise Jenkins leads the team in scoring (15.2 ppg) and she's one of two players to tally more than 100 assists on the season.  The other is Jessica January, DePaul's leader (and the Big East's leader) in assists this season at 5.9 per game.  January also scores it in double digits at 13.5 per game, and she's second on the team in rebounding.  The leader in corralling missed shots is Megan Podkowa, who grabs 8.1 rebounds per game, which is second in the Big East to Seton Hall's Tiffany Jones.  Podkowa might be 6'2" and be able to bang inside like almost no one else in the league, but she's also DePaul's most lethal three point threat, canning 49% of her 98 attempts this season.