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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at Providence Friars

The Golden Eagles look to remain undefeated in Big East play.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 06 Xavier at Providence
So, uh, can we get pictures of the good doggo PC mascot where he’s not staring into my soul?
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I suspect that the message of head coach Carolyn Kieger’s preparation for Wednesday night’s game is something similar to “No Days Off.”

A year ago, Marquette women’s basketball headed to Providence coming off of a monster 102-101 victory on the road against DePaul. The result of the next game? A 66-64 loss to the Friars after leading by 10 in the third that ended up spiraling into a horribly thrown away loss to Creighton two days later. That’s likely two losses that the Golden Eagles would have wanted to have back both in terms of the conference tournament seedings, but also the NCAA tournament seedings. There’s no way around it: The loss to Providence was a bad, ugly loss that was largely avoidable. MU’s offense did enough to win, shooting 11-of-19 from long range. The defense, though... they lost containment on Jovana Nogic repeatedly, which let her shoot 7-for-11 from long range and ultimately send MU to their demise in the game.

This time around, Marquette heads to Rhode Island with a 4-0 record in league play and a definitive desire to avoid a bad loss. Not just for the sake of avoiding the loss, but it would be a major drag for a team like Providence to be the first conference play loss of the season. Sorry/not sorry, Friars, but you’re just not that good of a basketball team.

Allazia Blockton Watch: After collecting 20 points against Creighton before fouling out, the junior guard is up to 1,421 career points. That gives her the 11th highest point total in program history, surpassing Clare Barnard’s 1,356. It’s going to be a while before she gets to #10 all time, as Katherine Plouffe is at 1,551.

Natisha Hiedeman Watch: The junior guard added 16 points in MU’s last outing to move to 1,066 career points to pass Kiesha Oliver (1,061) at #24 all-time. Up next is Sarina Simmons at #23 with 1,073 points, and Danielle Kamm’s 1,079 isn’t that far past that.

Erika Davenport Watch: After scoring 8 points against DePaul, the junior forward is up to 966 career points, and she remains on track to become the 27th 1,000 point scorer in program history. With that said, she probably won’t get there on Wednesday, but she keeps creeping closer and closer.

Big East Game #5: at Providence Friars (8-9, 1-4 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Alumni Hall, Providence, Rhode Island
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 11-5 all time against Providence, including the aforementioned loss in Alumni Hall last season. Still, even with that one, MU has still won seven of the last nine meetings.

As you can tell from the 1-4 league record, things have kind of gone sideways for Providence since conference play started. They didn’t have a particularly eventful non-conference schedule, so their 7-5 mark in those games isn’t worth a whole lot either. The “good” news is that PC only needs four more wins to match all of last season, and only three more to match their Big East total.

The Friars had a very odd team statistical profile. Thanks to the sniper ability of Jovana Nogic (36%), Clara Che (40%), and Maddie Jolin (44%), Providence is one of the 25 most accurate long range shooting teams in the country. However, they really don’t take advantage of this. According to Her Hoop Stats, Providence ranks 155th in the nation in terms of how often they shoot their three-point shot within their offense. Now, part of this may just merely be that head coach Jim Crowley has apparently banned anyone but that trio from attempting a three-pointer. They’ve accounted for literally all but eight of Providence’s long range shots, and if you know no one else is going to shoot from out there, it gets a little easier to focus on the three potential shooters on the floor.

The flip side of that is that the trio of shooters isn’t likely to shoot from anywhere else on the floor. 56% of Nogic’s shots are threes, which is the low number. Che has taken 57% of her shots from behind the arc, and Jolin? She’s up just under 60%. That’s a pretty singular focus for a slow minded team (#325 in tempo via Her Hoop Stats) that doesn’t actually want to shoot threes all that much.

Marquette may be best served by jumping on the Friars from the opening tip. Providence has been outscored by 54 in their 17 first quarters of the season. That doesn’t sound like much — just three points per game, but it’s drastically different than the other three quarters. PC has a slight advantage in second quarters, and a slight disadvantage in third quarters. They’re outscoring foes by nearly a point per game in the fourth quarter, but some of that may have to do with the reasons why they’ve lost nine games already this season. The point is that Providence has shown a tendency to struggle in the first quarter more than any other, and if MU can blitz them out of the gate — and we know that MU is capable of it — they might be able to put this one away early.