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2019 Big East Women’s Basketball Championship Preview: #1 Marquette vs #2 DePaul

Well, it was always destined to go this way, wasn’t it?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-DePaul vs Creighton
Mart’e Grays leads DePaul in scoring this season.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

2019 BIG EAST WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#1 Marquette Golden Eagles (26-6, 15-3 Big East) vs #2 DePaul Blue Demons (25-7, 14-4 Big East)

Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
Television: FS1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
All-Time Series: DePaul leads, 44-28
Season Series: Marquette won, 2-0

I feel like that All-Time Series line in the info dump at the top does need a teeeensy bit of clarification. After Marquette won the two regular season games against the Blue Demons this season, MU has now won six of the last eight games against DePaul.

And now a clarification to the clarification: One of the two Marquette losses came in last year’s Big East championship game. That’s worth bringing up here because the Golden Eagles brought it up relative to Marquette’s two games against DePaul this season. Last March, DePaul and Marquette met in the Big East tournament title game for the second straight season. Marquette won in 2017, using home court advantage in Milwaukee to secure the win. DePaul was the victory in 2018, and things ..... did not go very well for Marquette whatsoever. MU fell behind big early, trailing 52-29 at the half before the final score of 98-63. It wasn’t great. You can see why the players had it on their minds when tangling with the Blue Demons during the regular season.

In Milwaukee, Marquette laid the smack down, opening up the game on an 18-5 tear and never looking back in a 96-63 victory. It was 29-9 after 10 minutes. In Chicago, things went a little different. Allazia Blockton was back in the lineup after missing the first game due to an ankle injury, and the Golden Eagles needed a 10-4 burst over the final 2:14 to win, 93-87, in a contest where they had led by as many as 13 in the third quarter. Blockton came off the bench for 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting and added six rebounds, too.

Marquette reaches this year’s title game by way of a #BEATEMDOWN against St. John’s in the quarterfinals and a topsy-turvy game of runs against Georgetown in the semifinals. The Golden Eagles grabbed a big advantage yesterday afternoon and then spent the rest of the game playing tug-of-war with the Hoyas. The game never got very very close, only very close, and MU came away with the win. DePaul’s path to the championship was somewhat similar. They jumped on Providence early on their way to an 85-60 win in the quarters, but their semifinal win over Creighton was much more interesting. It was a four point game at the half, and the Bluejays managed to finagle a five point lead late in the third quarter. DePaul wrested control back from Creighton, but it was still a two possession game as late as 3:50 to go after Olivia Elger made two free throws to make it a 68-63 game favoring DePaul. Creighton would score just six more points the rest of the way, letting DePaul build their way to an 80-69 win.

As always with Marquette and DePaul, there’s a bit of “two Spider-Men pointing at each other” in these games. Both teams want to get up and down and play with pace, so you’re usually guaranteed to get a highly entertaining game out of the experience. The big difference between the two teams is essentially three-point shooting. Per HerHoopStats.com, both teams are pretty good at it, ranking in the top 75 in the country in shooting percentage. However, Marquette (37.7% is better than DePaul (33.8%), and the long range bomb is a facet of what the Golden Eagles are trying to do on offense. MU is a middling team in terms of how many of their attempts come from behind the arc, while DePaul would love nothing more than to only shoot threes. Only two teams in the country shoot a higher percentage of their shots from long range than DePaul does at 43.9%. Ashton Millender is DePaul’s most likely sniper, firing 232 of her 331 shots in the regular season from the arc. She’s knocking down 36%, too, so that’s pretty good. Lexi Held is better at 41%, but she is barely above three attempts per game. Kelly Campbell (34%) has to be respected in terms of her shot, as does Rebekah Dahlman. That’s enough shooters to cover over the fact that DePaul’s top two scorers, Mart’e Grays and Chante Stonewall, are actually bad shooters. I don’t want to say that MU should just let them let it rip, but it also wouldn’t be the worst plan either.

The big question for Marquette, as it has to be here, is how will the Golden Eagles deal without having Erika Davenport in the lineup. She played in both of the regular season meetings, and while she didn’t have much of an impact in the blowout win in Milwaukee, she went for 15 and 12 in Chicago. That’s a pretty big part of a close win, so Carolyn Kieger and her staff will need to find a way to counter that loss.