Marquette Golden Eagles went up by 12 very early against New Mexico last week in their season opener.... and then nothing went quite right for the Golden Eagles after that, as they left the Land of Enchantment with an 88-87 loss. Considering that was the same day that Marquette moved from #17 to #16 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, it was a pretty lousy way to spend a day.
It wasn’t that lousy of a performance by the Golden Eagles, though. Yes, Jaisa Nunn went crazy for 39 points and 13 rebounds. Yes, Marquette had almost no defensive answer for literally anything the Lobos did over the final six minutes or so. Yes, opening your season with a loss when you’re a ranked team is a really bad thing to do.
But... well.... Marquette only allowed 1.08 points per possession in the game. That’s not the worst defensive performance, if we’re being honest. Ultimately, MU was one, maybe two, maybe three stops from yanking out a win. Outside of Nunn’s 14-for-15 shooting, the Golden Eagles held the rest of the Lobos to just 38% from the field. Marquette did a better job rebounding than New Mexico.
With all of that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the Golden Eagles will be invigorated by a return to the McGuire Center for their home opener. MU needs to get a strong performance underneath their belts before they head to Mexico over Thanksgiving weekend for two games against very good opponents, including traditional power Tennessee.
Two things to watch for Marquette: First, we need to see if Lauren Van Kluenen is for real. The redshirt freshman went for 23 points, eight rebounds, an assist, and two steals in her collegiate debut. She’s not going to get overlooked by opponents formulating a game plan in the future, so we’ll have to see if she can perform up to that kind of attention. Second, we need to see if Amani Wilborn will be in action. The junior and Milwaukee native made the trip to New Mexico for the opener, but did not dress to play. While the Golden Eagles didn’t lose because she wasn’t playing, it sure makes things a lot easier for head coach Carolyn Kieger to have one more component to throw at opponents.
Game #2: vs Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds (1-2)
Date: Sunday, November 19, 2017
Time: 3pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotion: The first 500 fans in attendance get a miniature 2017 Big East Tournament Championship commemorative banner.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
This is the first ever meeting between Marquette and Loyola-Maryland. Maybe this will end up leading to lacrosse games between the two schools as well.
Loyola opened up their 2017-18 campaign with a 15 point home win over Cornell, but followed that up with back to back home losses. First it was an eight point loss to George Mason, and then they got swamped by Georgetown, 72-54. That is not the best way to head into your first road game of the season, not to mention the first of five straight road games.
Stephanie Karcz is leading Loyola-MD in scoring so far this season, averaging 18 points per game in their three games. However, Karcz is not regarded as their best player. That would be Bri Betz-White, who was one of five women honored on the preseason all-Patriot League team. Betz-White, who is averaging 10.5 points, two rebounds, and six assists, has only played in two of their games and only started in one. She missed the Georgetown game on Friday, so we’ll call her questionable for this game on Sunday.
With Betz-White’s status in doubt, it’s safe to say that things are not going well so far this season for the Greyhounds. This is especially not great for Loyola, as they were picked to finish ninth in the 10 team Patriot League.