Here’s a painfully familiar refrain for Marquette fans: After the biggest win by the program in years, the Golden Eagles have lost their last two games.
Weird how both the men’s and women’s basketball teams find themselves in the same situation, isn’t it?
The good news is that Carolyn Kieger’s squad is probably in better shape when it comes to the postseason than Steve Wojciechowski’s team. The women’s team has a 2-0 record against RPI top 25 teams and a 4-3 record against the top 50. That’s a pretty solid setup that should buoy the team for a while.... as long as they don’t struggle much more over the final seven games of the regular season.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? Last weekend, coming off a win over #19 DePaul, Marquette clanked a road game against Providence and then turned around 36 hours later and quite literally handed a victory to Creighton with two turnovers in the final minute. That loss to PC is one of Marquette’s two sub-100 RPI losses on the season, which is why ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the Golden Eagles as the third to last team in the 64 team field. The good wins are keeping them in the field, the bad losses are driving them towards the edge. It’s not a great situation.
This weekend, Marquette hosts Seton Hall (#186 RPI) and St. John’s (#82). They desperately need to snap their two game skid by beating the Pirates, and getting a revenge win over the Red Storm to level the season series at one win each would be a big deal, and not just for the postseason profile. Heading into the weekend, MU is tied for third place with SJU, and of course, right now the Johnnies hold the tiebreaker. Marquette is hosting the Big East tournament, but any advantage you can get to advance would be beneficial.
Allazia Blockton Watch: The countdown to 1,000 career points continues, as Blockton currently sits at 953. If she has a big game against SHU, it’s possible that she could get to that milestone on Sunday against St. John’s. The Milwaukee native needs 47 to become the 25th 1,000 point scorer in program history (again, as only a sophomore) and 49 to tie Kerri Christianson for 24th place.
Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The sophomore from Green Bay has tied Heidi Bowman for the 12th most in a Marquette career. Hiedeman had 68 a year ago and 51 so far this season gives her 119. Erin Monfre at #10 with 125 might be in range for this weekend. Hiedeman is also one made triple short of tying Arlesia Morse for the third most made threes by a sophomore at 52.
McKayla Yentz Watch: The reason why Hiedeman is 12th is because Yentz is already past Erin Monfre’s 10th most made three-pointers in program history. With 50 made threes this season, Yentz is up to 132 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 six attempts short of the top 12 in that column with 389.
Big East Game #12: vs Seton Hall (11-11, 4-7 Big East)
When: Friday, February 3, 2017, at 11:30am CT
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Fox Sports Wisconsin has the television broadcast & the Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go will carry it for free as well. There’s live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette has a 10-7 all time record against Seton Hall, although the Pirates have won five out of the last eight. Carolyn Kieger has her first ever win in Walsh Gymnasium after MU’s trip out east earlier this season.
Since Last We Met: The Pirates have gone 3-3 since losing to Marquette in early January, but the how of it probably has them feeling a little bit better about themselves. SHU dropped games at Villanova and at Georgetown coming off the MU loss to extend their streak to six straight. They snapped that with a home win over Providence, and after Creighton yanking away a win from them in overtime at Walsh, Seton Hall got home wins over Xavier and Butler to even out their season record at .500.
The big message from Carolyn Kieger and her staff for this game should be how the opening 25 minutes of the first meeting between the two teams was much different than the final 15 and change. Marquette had a 60-37 lead against Seton Hall out in South Orange, but ended up with a six point win. That’s not great! Kaela Hilaire and Claire Lundberg scored 14 and 15 of their 16 and 18 points respectively after halftime to lead the charge back into the game for the Pirates. The Golden Eagles got two big threes from McKayla Yentz to stem the tide and hold off Seton Hall, but it probably never should have come to that.
Marquette can’t depend on Yentz and Natisha Hiedeman to go 12-for-22 on threes together a second time around, so they’ll have to find some other way to beat Seton Hall. Odds are that Allazia Blockton won’t have another quiet game, scoring just 10 points last time. Marquette will also have to keep a handle on the ball. They committed only 11 turnovers last time against the Pirates, but nine of them came in the second half. Considering the relentless pace that Kieger wants her team going at, they can’t be putting themselves in a position to be turning the ball over nine times in 20 minutes.
Big East Game #13: vs St. John’s (15-7, 7-4 Big East)
When: Sunday, February 5, 2017, at 1pm CT
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the free streaming broadcast & there’s live stats.
Special Promotion: 1st 250 fans get a snazzy looking MU soup bowl, because, see, it’s SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. Get it? General admission tickets are FREE if you donate two non-perishable food items as well.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette has a 9-8 all time record against the Red Storm, with St. John’s winning four out of the last five games.
Since Last We Met: The Red Storm have not exactly knocked them dead since their early January win over the Golden Eagles. Immediately turning around and losing to DePaul isn’t a big deal, but losing to Villanova the following week? Probably bad. Going out and losing to Creighton in their next game, even at home, also isn’t an issue at face value, but it’s how they lost that is a problem. When you lose at home when you ALLOW 55 points, you’ve done something very wrong. In this case, it was St. John’s shooting 24% for the game, which is pretty much a guarantee to lose every time, because good luck holding a team to less than that. They have bounced back from that with three straight wins to land themselves in a tie with Marquette in third place in the league standings at 7-4.
The focus for the game will be stopping Jade Walker. The 6’1 senior went for 32 points and nine rebounds in the game in New York earlier this season as the Red Storm got her free inside for easy buckets over and over and over and over and over. She made 15 of her 22 field goal attempts in the game..... and she missed all three of her three-point attempts. Yeah, it was that bad. MU showed that they learned from that experience by corralling Butler’s Tori Schickel, but the difference here is that St. John’s has more going for them elsewhere on the court than Butler does.
For example, St. John’s also got 21 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists from Aaliyah Lewis in the first meeting. This performance is almost completely overlooked due to Walker following up Brianna Rollerson’s inside destruction of Marquette, but this is the devil that Marquette has to deal with: Can you contain Walker and Lewis at the same time? You’d think that MU has the players to stay with the 5’5” senior guard on the perimeter, but if they have to shade towards Walker to help inside, that just opens things up even more for Lewis.
One thing from the first meeting that probably won’t go the same way for Marquette is how Akina Wellere played. She wasn’t bad by any estimation, but she shot just one time, connecting from long distance, and played just 10 minutes. She’s hitting on 49% of her treys this season, and she shoots more than three per game on average while playing 29 minutes a game. Odds are that Wellere, the best three-point shooter in the conference, will not stay that quiet again, especially since she did not miss any time after that game.