With finals in the rear view mirror, it’s time for Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball to kick things into high gear. Sunday is the first of two road games this week before Christmas with the second one coming against #2 Notre Dame. After the holiday, MU will play their first three Big East games all in a span of a week. All three will be at home, which is a nice break, but the third one will be against DePaul.
That’s a really important span of five games in just 19 days for Marquette.
We’ll also get an idea of how head coach Carolyn Kieger is managing the mental side of her team. They haven’t been particularly great to start the season. Sitting on a record of 5-4, they have lost to two teams that were ranked at the time, another team that was earning top 25 votes but not ranked at the time, and another team that wasn’t earning votes at the time but is now. In other words, they’ve lost their four biggest games of the season, and as a result, their non-conference profile in terms of the NCAA tournament is kind of non-existent.
On top of that, the team took a bit of a mental shot during finals week when transfer Tori McCoy was diagnosed with a rare kidney condition that will require her to receive a transplant. Doctors estimate the damage to McCoy’s kidneys at 80% and she will require three dialysis treatments per week until she receives a transplant. That’s scary stuff for a 19 year old to go through, and it’s scary stuff for her teammates to deal with as well. Not to make it all about basketball, but having a teammate and/or friend go through something like this all of a sudden can really throw a person off, and it will be up to Kieger and her staff to refocus the team on playing the best basketball that they can.
Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The junior from Green Bay is 22 points away from 1,000 in her career. When she gets there, she’ll be the 26th MU player to hit that plateau, and Hiedeman is averaging 15 per game. She did score a season high 26 already this year, so popping off for 22 is well within sight.
Game #10: at Milwaukee Panthers (8-2)
Date: Sunday, December 17, 2017
Time: 4pm Central
Location: Klotsche Center, Milwaukee, WI
Television: Fox Sports Wisconsin
Streaming Video: Fox Sports Go, as long as your cable package has FS Wisconsin
Streaming Radio: Mixlr.com (UWM broadcast)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 28-19 all time against Milwaukee, however the rivalry has historically been lopsided one way or another. After UWM won the first meeting in 1976, MU rattled off wins in the next six games. After UWM snapped that streak and MU won the one after that, the Panthers won every meeting between 1981 and 1990, a streak of 15 straight. That brings us to 1992, and a start of a Marquette-dominant series. Since 1992, Marquette has lost just twice in 23 meetings. The most recent Milwaukee win was in 2008, and Marquette has won five straight since then.
Wanna see something funny? Here’s a line directly from the UWM preview for this game.
Milwaukee nearly claimed a win in last year's contest, before running out of gas in the final few minutes.
That’s their definition of turning a 17 point Marquette lead early in the third quarter to a three point margin with six minutes left before giving up a 13-0 run and losing by 11. Whatever helps y’all sleep at night, I guess.
As for this year’s team, they’re 8-2 on the year with all eight wins coming in a row after losing their first two of the season. They’re coming off of a 67-64 win over the same Wisconsin team that Marquette sandblasted 88-65 in the McGuire Center. UWM had a lead heading into the fourth, Wisconsin grabbed a lead with less than three minutes to play before UWM slipped past them down the stretch.
Steph Kostowicz hit four free throws late against the Badgers to help propel the Panthers to the win, and she also leads the team in scoring this season with 17.2 per contest. She also leads the team in assists, but UWM’s not a very pass happy team, as she averages just 2.9 helpers.
As a team, UWM can’t really shoot it all that well, averaging 41% overall and 31% from behind the arc. However, Marquette is going to need to defend Bailey Farly and Jamie Reit carefully. Both women shoot it nearly four times per game from long range, and they connect pretty well. Reit is the slightly more likely shooter at 35%, while Farley is hitting 49% of her triples. Farley tends to run hot and non-existent with her shooting, as she has games of 4-of-7 and 5-of-7 this season, plus two 3-of-6 games, but also five games where she hit either one or zero three-pointers.