Marquette was up by 10 before three minutes wound off the clock on Sunday and never led by fewer than 11 for the final 46:54, easily defeating Butler 91-53. Marquette is now 6-2 in Big East play and 15-4 overall, giving them their highest overall win total in a season since 2013-14.
The big star of the game was McKayla Yentz, who went 3-for-3 on three-pointers in the opening frame, pushing Marquette’s lead to four, nine, and then 15 points with each successive made bucket. The senior from Sun Prairie finished with 15 points after making each of her first five long ball attempts before finally missing on her sixth.
If you had to isolate a reason why Marquette beat Butler on this day (other than “scored more points”), it comes down to taking Tori Schickel out of the equation. Butler’s star came into the game as the only woman in the Big East averaging a double-double at 13.8 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. Schickel played every second of the first 27 minutes of the game (she left with Butler down 28 late in the third and did not return), but scored just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and grabbed just eight rebounds. Marquette double teamed her at every opportunity, and rebounds on both ends were swatted at over and over again to keep Schickel from reeling them in. The Golden Eagles were also unafraid to be physical with Schickel, sending her sprawling multiple times and letting the referees decide what was and was not a foul.
Defending Schickel well would have been the goal overall for the game, regardless of anything else. It’s hard to ignore the Big East’s most productive rebounder, y’know? The bigger issue here was seeing Marquette solve a problem that had bitten them twice before. Creighton’s Brianna Rollerson and St. John’s Jade Walker gave the Golden Eagles fits in the games against those two squads, and surprise, those are MU’s two league play losses. Schickel has an inside game similar enough to Rollerson and Walker, so it’s good to see Carolyn Kieger and her team properly execute to stop Schickel as well as execute a plan that they hadn’t executed in the past.
The bonus to eliminating Schickel from the Bulldogs’s game plan is they elected to shoot way too many three pointers to make up for it. Butler came in shooting 27% on threes for the season, and as we’ve mentioned before, 33% is the efficiency break even point. The Bulldogs launched 24 treys in this game, connecting on just six for a shooting percentage of merely 25%. Any time you can trick an opponent into relying on a massive weakness in their arsenal, you’re doing something right.
Erika Davenport added to her Big East leading double-double total by posting 14 points and 12 rebounds, and she chipped in three assists and three steals, too. Allazia Blockton led all scorers with 20, adding three rebounds and four assists to the game.
Marquette got big minutes contributions in this game from the deep end of their bench, with every active scholarship athlete playing at least six minutes. The two most notable statistical contributions off the bench came from Isabelle Spingola and Meghan Mandel. Spingola came in shooting just 18% on three-pointers in limited duty, but she canned three of her six attempts in 14 minutes here. If Spingola has broken through some freshman jitters with this game and can turn into a reliable weapon, that’s good news for this year’s team, not to mention the next few years. Mandel snapped up six rebounds, one for each minute that she played. That’s a ridiculously high rate, but it also shows what kind of an impact that the 6’4” Minnesota native can have on the game as she acclimates to collegiate hoops.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: It’s challenge time, kids. The Golden Eagles are off until Saturday when they make the trip down I-94 to Chicago to square off with DePaul. The Blue Demons are 8-0 in league play and ranked #21 in the latest Associated Press poll. Marquette will need to steal a win in McGrath-Phillips Arena if they want to have a chance at a Big East regular season title.