One final non-conference game is on the deck for Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball, and all things considered, it’s been a successful campaign for the Golden Eagles thus far.
On Tuesday night, MU wrapped up a four game jaunt away from the McGuire Center by notching their fourth straight win. The Golden Eagles are now 5-0 away from 770 N. 12th Street, which is a pretty good way to go about burnishing your postseason profile. They do have two losses on the home slate, but as it turns out, those are currently the two toughest opponents that MU played this season. Northwestern is currently #8 in the NCAA’s RPI calculation, and MU went to overtime with the Wildcats without Selena Lott available, and Mississippi State is at #12. While this MU roster is wildly different than the one that pushed the Bulldogs to the limit in Starkville last season, Marquette still gave MSU all they could handle and damn near came away with a season defining victory.
Maybe Marquette ends up struggling a little bit as things step into Big East play after Saturday afternoon’s contest. It wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world. However, the Golden Eagles have put themselves in position to be in the NCAA tournament conversation to this point. Given the situation that new head coach Megan Duffy was walking into between the lack of experience in her returning players and a treasure trove of freshmen that hadn’t played a minute of college ball yet, this is pretty good. At worst, we’re standing here right before Christmas saying “hey, whatever happens, things are pointed in a very good direction going forward.”
Game #11: vs Belmont Bruins (5-5)
This is Marquette’s first ever meeting with Belmont.
Belmont comes into Milwaukee with two straight wins following a four game losing streak. That’s a nice recovery for the Bruins, given how their five losses have gone this season. They have three 30+ point losses on the year, including a 64 pummeling by Maryland where they only managed more than six points in one of the four quarters. They also have a two point loss to Virginia Tech that wasn’t quite that close, but Belmont made a furious fourth quarter rally to make things really uncomfortable for the Hokies. Finally, loss #5 on the year was a five point overtime road defeat to a not particularly good Toledo team.
The good news for Belmont is that they’re familiar with the level of play needed to tilt with Marquette this season. The bad news is that they’re 1-4 against HerHoopStats.com top 100 teams this season. The caveat is that the win was in their last game, a 68-57 victory against #81 Middle Tennessee.
The one name you need to know for this scouting report/preview is Ellie Harmeyer. The 6’0” senior from Kenosha, Wisconsin, is averaging 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season. She’s primarily an interior scorer for the Bruins, but she’s willing to step out and shoot four three-pointers per game..... and roughly hit about one of them. She draws fouls well, ranking in the top 400 in free throw rate, and Harmeyer swallows up defensive rebounds to the tune of the 12th best raw average and the 89th best rate in the country. She already has five double-doubles on the season, and three games of at least 15 rebounds. Marquette has the interior depth to defend her well, so we’ll see who draws the assignment and/or performs the best.
Part of the reason why Harmeyer is launching from long distance even though she’s not very good at it this year is because that’s Belmont’s entire style. Head coach Bart Brooks has the Bruins running along with the 22nd highest volume of three-pointers relative to their total shot output in the country. The catch here is that they’re actually really bad shooting them as a team (26.9%, #282 in the country) and they also play very slowly (68.6 possessions per 40 minutes, #305 in the country), so they’re not making up for the inaccuracy by pure numbers. I mean, I guess I get having a signature style, but this ain’t it, chief.
If you’re wondering if there’s one Bruin more than anyone else that Marquette will have to defend, uh, well, there’s not. Maura Muensterman leads the team in attempts with 62 in 10 games, but she’s hitting 32.3% on the year. That’s just below the 33.3% needed to make a triple as valuable as shooting at the rim, and she’s Belmont’s most accurate shooter. There’s a whole lot of .2-something-something on their stat sheet. I’m sure that any of them could suddenly catch fire and create a problem for Marquette. However, the best tactic is most likely to let them shoot to their heart’s content and make sure to put a body on Harmeyer.