FINALLY, we get the Carolyn Kieger-Katie Meier matchup that we were promised in 2017.
In 2017, Marquette was assigned to an NCAA tournament pod hosted by Miami. This was fun news, as it was Kieger’s third season at Marquette after serving as an assistant for Miami’s Meier for six seasons. We were just 40 minutes (okay, well, 80 minutes if you count Miami needing to win their game) away from the student going up against the master, but then those lousy jerks from Quinnipiac decided to stick their nose into things and ruin the whole deal.
At least Marquette fans can comfort themselves knowing that QU gave the Hurricanes the business in the second round as well, sending the #12 seed onto the Sweet 16.
This Preseason WNIT semifinal contest will serve four purposes for the Golden Eagles. First, there’s the trip to Ames for the WNIT championship game on Sunday on the line. It’s already been decided that Marquette would go on the road to Iowa State if they advance, so that’s set. Second, this will be Marquette’s first road game of the season. The Golden Eagles rightfully have high goals and expectations this year, so they’re going to need to win away from Milwaukee if they want to reach those.
Third, it’s Marquette’s first opportunity to play high major competition. All due respect to MU’s first three opponents, especially South Dakota State, but Marquette absolutely running through them doesn’t mean all that much. There’s some big names out there on the MU non-conference schedule, and the Golden Eagles need to get acclimated to the deep end of the pool. Finally, it’s the first time this season that Marquette is bumping into a ranked opponent. Really, the only way you can move up in the top 25 rankings is by beating ranked teams. Sure, it’s fun that Marquette is ranked #19 in the country, but it would be more fun if they’re ranked higher than that! Thus: a win over the ‘Canes, particularly a road win, would go a long way towards boosting MU up the charts.
So, yeah, a lot on the line on Thursday night. By the way: If Marquette were to lose the game, then there is no WNIT consolation game for them. They would just be idle until the next regularly scheduled game on Saturday, November 24th, against Illinois-Chicago.
Game #3: at #24 Miami Hurricanes (3-0)
Unless I am mistaken, this will be the first time that Marquette has ever squared off against the Hurricanes. So that’s fun.
Miami reached the WNIT semifinals by way of wins over Stephen F. Austin and Hartford. For whatever it’s worth, Miami did not rampage through their wins the way that Marquette did. The SFA game was comfortably in hand for most of the game after Miami went up 22-16 at the end of the first quarter, and UM eventually led by as many as 24 before winning by 21. The Hartford game was different, as Miami was only up three at the half. The second half ended up being the difference in the game as they grabbed a seven point margin in that ten minutes on their way to a 13 point win.
You could make the argument that these slightly closer games are going to be better for the Hurricanes than Marquette’s absolute destructions. We’ll have to wait and see who’s celebrating at the final horn.
Through three games, Miami has a four-pack of double digit scorers. Beatrice Mompremier leads the way at 15.7 per contest, and the 6’4” Miami native is getting that done entirely inside the arc. She’s shooting 55% on the year and grabbing up 10.7 rebounds per game, too, so this will be an excellent chance to see if the Golden Eagles can figure out a way to defend a dominant interior player. They couldn’t do that in their exhibition game, and they lost to a Division 2 team in the process.
Miami’s next two leading scorers get it done going the other way, at least in the early stage of the season. Mykea Gray (8-for-18) and Sarah Mortensen (11-for-13) have been scorchingly hot from behind the three-point line, and while I know a readjustment is definitely coming for Mortensen soon, let’s not test her, either, okay?