Marquette has started off league play at 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07, the year after Carolyn Kieger finished her collegiate career at Marquette. The Golden Eagles were ranked #18 in the country when they defeated Syracuse for their second Big East win of the season and went on to finish 12-4 in the league and 28-7 overall after losing to Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
So it’s been awhile since MU has been off to this kind of a start.
Thanks to the nature of the women’s schedule in the league now, Marquette will get two home games to try to extend their league record to 4-0 and their overall winning streak to seven straight games. It’s not going to be easy, as MU will be hosting one of the four teams that are still undefeated in league play in the first of the pair. That issue becomes a little more complex when you consider the fact that Creighton was voted as the co-favorite to win the Big East before the season.
Marquette is primed to come away with this win, though, as well as the win on Wednesday night against Providence. They’re the second best shooting team in the league at 45% and the second best offensive rebounding rate team in the Big East as well. The Golden Eagles feature the best scorer in the conference in Allazia Blockton (17.9 points/game) and the best rebounder as well in Erika Davenport (10.5 per game). The Golden Eagles don’t top the league in assists as well, but that’s because they’ve got three players - Blockton, Natisha Hiedeman, and Danielle King - all ranked in the top 10, all averaging more than 3.5 helpers per game.
One last thing: Allazia Blockton needs six points to reach 800 for her career. She averages 17.9 per game, and if you want to round that off to 18, the sophomore from Milwaukee will need 12 more games to break the 1,000 point barrier. There are 16 games left in the regular season.
Big East Game #3: vs Creighton (8-4, 2-0 Big East)
Marquette has a 4-9 all time record against the Bluejays after splitting last year’s meetings as the Golden Eagles won in Milwaukee but lost in Omaha.
The Jays come in riding a four game winning streak, including snagging W’s in their first two Big East games, both of which were home games for Creighton. They allowed identical 52 point outputs from both Butler and Xavier, which is good news, because Creighton’s mostly reliable three point shooting (34% on the season) abandoned them. They shot just 26% against Butler and 23% against Xavier, and those long range attempts accounted for 41% of all of their field goal attempts in those two games. That is an awful lot of shots to take with very little positive results.
Upside is that they won, setting themselves off on a 2-0 start in league play. As you can see from that 6-4 non-conference record, the Bluejays were in need of a good start to their Big East slate. Even when you leave their record out of it, Creighton was in need of some good news, as senior guard M.C. McGrory has been forced to retire from competitive basketball due to concussions after nine games of this season. McGrory (7pts, 4 reb) was far from a star for CU, but she started in eight of Creighton’s nine games before her medical issue sidelined her, and she was shooting 40% on three pointers with nearly three attempts per game.
Marquette’s defense will have to focus on the trio of Audrey Faber, Marissa Janning, and Brianna Rollerson. Combined, they’re averaging over 35 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists per game. Faber and Janning are Creighton’s most likely long range shooters, but they’ve struggled with effectiveness this season with both women shooting under 32%. MU will have to account for Lauren Works (37%) and Jaylyn Agnew (44%) when they’re on the court, but that’s really about it unless someone catches fire. Rollerson was limited by her return from injury last season, but she was still effective in very short stints against the Golden Eagles, and odds are that will multiply if she gets her usual 21 minutes or so of action.
Big East Game #4: vs Providence (9-4, 1-1 Big East)
When: Wednesday, January 4, 2017, at 7pm CT
Where: McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the streaming broadcast. Live stats are here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette has a 10-4 all time record against Providence, including a four game winning streak and wins in six of the last seven meetings.
Providence got off to a great start in 2016-17, going 8-3 in non-conference action. Yes, it was against largely lackluster squads, but head coach Jim Crowley is in his first season and is taking over a team that won just five games total all of last season. At 1-1, the Friars have already matched their league win total from all 18 games of last year.
Both of PC’s first two league games were at home, and, because of travel partners, they hosted Butler and Xavier just like Creighton did. They got clipped by three points against Xavier after cutting it to just one with just four seconds left, but the Musketeers used a pair of freebies to protect their lead. Things went much better two days later against the Bulldogs as Yoyo Nogic tallied 18 points and Providence led by as many as 23 points late before settling in for a 17 point victory.
Providence shot 7-of-13 from long range against Butler, and that’s kind of their M.O. this season. They shoot 39% from long range on the season, but they don’t lean on the three-pointer either, as just 29% of their shots come from the outside. Nogic is more than happy to hoist and Crowley is more than happy to see it since she’s shooting over 50%. Maddie Jolin can launch, too, and Clara Che seems to think she’s allowed to shoot even if she’s only hitting on 30% of her attempts.
All of this and I still haven’t mentioned Sarah Beal, who actually leads the team in field goal attempts. The senior from North Carolina is averaging 13/4/3 for the Friars, and while none of those numbers lead the team in their category, she’s clearly getting a little bit done everywhere for PC.