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Marquette Women’s Basketball Weekend Preview: at Providence & at Creighton

The Golden Eagles look to build on their biggest league win in a long time.

Dayton v Providence Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Well, here we are at 7-2 in league play, thanks to one of the craziest games that you’ll ever see. Back on Saturday night, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles rallied to beat #19 DePaul in overtime, 102-101.

That was fun.

As a result of last weekend’s games, DePaul and Creighton enter this weekend at 8-1 atop the league standings with MU trailing in third place at 7-2. As luck would have it, both Marquette and DePaul have to visit the Bluejays this weekend, so things could get changed up pretty quickly. DePaul will get the first crack at Creighton on Friday night, followed by Marquette coming to Omaha on Sunday afternoon.

Marquette’s game against Creighton probably means a little bit more to head coach Carolyn Kieger and her charges than just a chance to bump off a first place team. Back on January 2nd, CU came into the McGuire Center and just ran Marquette out of their building, slowly building and building on their lead the entire game before finally winning 83-63. The loss to St. John’s? Eh, it was close, it was on the road, these things happen. Getting sandblasted in your own building? Probably shouldn’t happen, even if the team across from you was the preseason co-favorite to win the league.

With the standings as tight as they are right now, Marquette earning the season split with Creighton could end up benefiting the Golden Eagles come March when it’s time to seed the Big East tournament. If MU and CU both end up with the same record, the tiebreaker will have to be something other than head to head play. If you get the chance to push the tiebreaker on down the road, it’s never a bad thing, and that’s the opportunity that Marquette has in front of them on Sunday.

There’s also the issue of Marquette (and DePaul, I guess) going on the Big East’s worst road trip this weekend. As you might have noticed, women’s basketball in the Big East is played with travel partners. Marquette and DePaul play a team, and then, whether it’s home or on the road, they switch opponents for the next game. Most of these trips make sense in travel. Butler/Xavier, St. John’s/Seton Hall, you get the picture. But Providence and Creighton don’t have a partner that’s nearby, so they’re partnered together. MU will play in Rhode Island on Friday night, and then have about 36 hours off to travel to Nebraska and be ready to play on Sunday afternoon. It’s not an ideal setup, but at least Marquette has the good version, where they gain an hour by traveling west. DePaul loses an hour in transit from Omaha to Providence, which shortens up that time in between games ever so slightly.

Allazia Blockton Watch: FINALLY, we can officially kick off this category, as the sophomore from Milwaukee has passed the 900 point barrier for her career. She’s sitting on 911 points after racking up 24 against DePaul, which leaves her 89 points from being the 25th 1,000 point scorer in program history. Blockton is 91 points behind Kerri Christianson in 24th place at 1,002.

Natisha Hiedeman Watch: Believe it or not, the sophomore from Green Bay needs just one made three-pointer to tie Heidi Bowman for the 12th most in a Marquette career. Hiedeman had 68 a year ago and 50 so far this season gives her 118. Bowman finished her collegiate career with 119. Erin Monfre at #10 with 125 might be range for this weekend. Hiedeman is also two made triples short of tying Arlesia Morse for the third most made threes by a sophomore at 52.

McKayla Yentz Watch: The reason why Hiedeman is aiming at 12th is because Yentz just passed Erin Monfre’s 10th most made three-pointers in program history with three makes against DePaul. Yentz is up to 127 now and next up is Courtney Weibel at #9 with 135. Yentz’s evolution as a shooter for this team in her 4 year career is quite impressive, as she’s still about 20 attempts short of the top 12 in that column.

Big East Game #10: at Providence (9-11, 1-8 Big East)

When: Friday, January 27, 2017, at 6pm Central
Where: Alumni Hall in Providence, Rhode Island
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the free video stream & there’s live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette has an 11-4 all time record against Providence, including a five game winning streak and wins in seven of the last eight meetings.

Since Last We Met: Well, things have kind of gone backwards a little bit for Jim Crowley in his first year at Providence. After going a very respectable 8-3 in non-conference play to give the Friars more wins in a season than they’ve had since 2011-12, PC is only 1-8 in league play. The win came in their first pair of league games, so it’s been five straight losses since Marquette picked up a not-as-close-as-the-score 79-74 win back on January 4th.

The good news for Crowley (and somewhat bad news for Kieger and Marquette) is that four of those five losses have been competitive, and actually, seven of their eight league losses have been close at the final horn, which includes all three games against DePaul, Creighton, and Marquette. That’s not too bad, honestly, and when the Friars need just one more win to surpass last year’s league victory total, it’s definitely a good sign that they’re fighting hard.

In the first meeting between the teams, Marquette couldn’t contain Yoyo Nogic. The sophomore from Portugal went for 21 points, largely because of a 5-of-9 outing from behind the three-point line. Nogic is the second best long range bomber in the Big East, draining 47% of her tries on the year and 44% of them in league play. She’s firing off shots at a rate of six per game, so Marquette let her get out of hand with nine attempts. Sarah Beal also had a big game for the Friars, scoring a game high 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Outside of Nogic and Beal, Marquette played pretty solid defense against Providence, so locking those two down will have to be the goal on Friday

Big East Game #11: at Creighton (14-5, 8-1 Big East)

When: Sunday, January 29, 2017, at 1pm Central
Where: D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Nebraska
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the free video stream & there’s live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette has a 4-10 all time record against the Bluejays after losing the game at the McGuire Center earlier this season. That was also MU’s second straight loss to Creighton and fourth in the last five meetings.

Since Last We Met: The good news is that Creighton followed up their 20 point win over Marquette with a 14 point loss to DePaul two days later. The bad news is that the Jays haven’t lost since then, which has propelled them into that first place tie with the Blue Demons. They did have to go to overtime twice in this run of five straight wins, including a home 70-68 win over Georgetown and a 70-60 road blowout (OT, remember) of Seton Hall.

Their games also haven’t been what one would call “thrill-a-minute.” The 70 point outputs in the two overtime games have been their high water marks, and I just look at the 55-43 victory against St. John’s and just groan in disgust at the idea of watching Creighton struggle to hold off a team shooting just 24%.

Item #1 on the scouting report from the Marquette staff will be shutting down Brianna Rollerson. The senior is averaging 11 points and eight rebounds for Creighton, but she went for 22 and five with two blocks against MU in the first meeting in just 25 minutes of action. That’s actually a lot of playing time for Rollerson, who averages just 22 minutes a game and just a shade over 23 in league games. Creighton was able to consistently get Rollerson into positions inside where she was either already moving to the basket for a layup or could just turn and bank in an easy three-footer at the McGuire Center, and that has to be the focus of Marquette’s defense this time around.

Meanwhile, they’re going to have to keep track of Creighton’s shooters. Audrey Faber, Sydney Lamberty, and Marissa Janning combined to drop in six of 10 three-point attempts in the first meeting between the teams, but only Faber has been a consistent shooter all season. Faber’s shooting 49% in league play and 36% overall from behind the arc, while Lamberty is below 30% in Big East games and Janning is under 20%. Lauren Works went 2-for-6 in Milwaukee and she’s hitting on 42% of her tries all season as well. Part of MU’s struggles against Rollerson may be related to Creighton’s hot shooting from unexpected sources, so the Golden Eagles will have to figure out a way to balance all of that out.