2017 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals
#3 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #6 Georgetown Hoyas
There’s not much at stake for Marquette as they begin play in the Big East tournament. At 22-7 overall and with an RPI of 36 through March 3, the Golden Eagles should be pretty safe on making the NCAA tournament regardless of whether or not they win one, two, or three games. ESPN’s Charlie Creme has Marquette as a #8 seed in his most recent bracketology effort, and with the at-large cut line currently down in the #11 seeds, the Golden Eagles should be reasonably safe. Barring a massive upset or series of upsets, MU won’t even play a sub-80 RPI team in the tournament, so as they continue on, they can really only improve their position.
However, Marquette does have the added bonus of playing at home in the McGuire Center. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Golden Eagles to take advantage of some home cooking and swipe a few extra wins as well as maybe hoist the Big East tournament trophy on Tuesday night. It’s not going to be a disappointment if they don’t, but there’s no reason not to reach out and grab the brass ring when it’s within reach. After all, Marquette has not reached the Big East tournament semifinals since 2014, and that was the first time they had advanced past the quarterfinals since 2007. Tournament play has not been kind to the Golden Eagles over the past decade, and this is a prime opportunity to change that.
Georgetown, on the other hand, is playing for their postseason lives. Creme does not have the Hoyas in his bracket, nor are they even one of his first eight teams out after Georgetown dropped their final two regular season games to DePaul and Marquette. Since Creme has both the Blue Demons and the Golden Eagles in the field, that provided something of a clarion moment as to whether GU was going to be an NCAA team this season. After going 8-2 in non-conference play, including a seven game winning streak, Georgetown went just 9-9 in Big East play and will need to win the tournament to make the NCAA tournament. They may be safely into the WNIT, as the tournament has a 64 team field, but even at 17-11 on the season, nothing is guaranteed for Georgetown.
This should be one of the better games of the quarterfinal round. Marquette won 84-77 in Washington, D.C., in the first series of conference games back in late December. On February 24, as part of the last series of league games, MU grabbed the 80-70 victory at the McGuire Center. Marquette pulled away late in the second meeting, leading by 14 in the final minutes after holding onto a single digit lead for most of the game. In the first meeting, Marquette got out to a bit of an early lead, but couldn’t get more than an 11 point lead on the Hoyas until early in the fourth quarter. MU led by 15 with 5:51 to play in D.C, and by 11 with 93 seconds left before the Hoyas trimmed into it very late. Both teams had at least three double-digit scorers in each meeting, so it’s hard to say who’s going to be the shining star in the third go-round.
The key to the game may be three-point shooting. Marquette shot over 40% in both games, while the Hoyas couldn’t even crack 23%. If Georgetown wants to advance, they’re going to have to find a way to keep Natisha Hiedeman and McKayla Yentz under wraps while finding ways to score without much of a long distance attack of their own.
Allazia Blockton Watch: Blockton scored 33 points last weekend to move her to an even 500 on the season and 1,061 for her career. That has the sophomore (yes, sophomore) tied with Kiesha Oliver for the 23rd most in program history. Up next is Sarina Simmons at 1,073, and Danielle Kamm at 1,079 is within range for Sunday. Blockton is now two field goals short of the 3rd most by a MU sophomore, with her 197 trailing Julie Sievers’ 199.
Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The sophomore from Green Bay has the 11th most made three-pointers in a Marquette career. Hiedeman had 68 a year ago and 64 so far this season gives her 132. Up next is Courtney Weibel with 135. Hiedeman also has the third most made threes for a sophomore, and next up is Krystal Ellis at 65. Her 179 attempts this season are the second most by a sophomore, trailing only Ellis again at 183.
McKayla Yentz Watch: The reason why Hiedeman is 11th in made threes is because Yentz has the 9th most made three-pointers in program history. Yentz’s 65 made threes this season moved her to 147 in her career. Courtney Romeiser and Tatiyiana McMorris are tied for seventh at 152 triples, so she’ll have to get hot to catch them on Sunday. Yentz’s evolution as a shooter for this team in her 4 year career is quite impressive, as her 170 attempts from long range this season have given her the 7th most in program history at 436. Yentz passed current head coach Carolyn Kieger as well as Courtney Weibel in attempts last weekend and now has her sights set on Kelly Schwerman’s sixth highest total of 454.
Erika Davenport Watch: The Michigan native is up to 277 rebounds on the season, which is now the third best season by a Marquette sophomore. Davenport passed Kathy Andrykowski, who grabbed up 273 in 1977-78, last weekend, but she’ll need a deep postseason run to catch Abbie Willenborg’s #2 total of 297.
Team Watch: With 202 treys on the season, the Golden Eagles are six made threes away from tying the program record of 208, set in 1994-95.
Big East Tournament Schedule
First Round – March 4 – BIG EAST Digital Network
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 Butler seed, 4 p.m.
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 Providence, 6:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals – March 5 – FS2
No. 2 Creighton vs. 10/7 winner, Noon
No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 6 Georgetown, 2:30 p.m.
No. 1 DePaul vs. 9/8 winner, 6 p.m.
No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 5 St. John’s, 8:30 p.m.
Semifinals – March 6 – FS1
Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 5 winner, vs. Game 6 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Final – March 7 – FS1
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m.