I think Tuesday’s opener presents an interesting puzzle for Megan Duffy and her staff to evaluate Marquette’s performance.
At a glance, you’d think that there’s not much that a team can really learn from a 61 point victory. But Marquette was only up 17 at the half, and that was after being up 12 at the end of the first quarter. It feels like there’s an awful lot to peel from the first 20 minutes, as that was a relatively competitive basketball game.
The remaining 20 minutes, the part that Marquette won by 44 points? Yeah, I don’t think there’s much there. I mean, I’m not a coach. Maybe Duffy and her staff can derive some important things out of there, especially for transfers Karissa McLaughlin and Kennedi Myles along with freshman Makiyah Williams, all of whom made their MU debut in that game. After all, it was their first time trying to execute what the coaches want in a live game that matters, so there’s always some fine tuning that can be done.
Maybe the bigger question is looking ahead instead of behind. Marquette had three players apparently out of commission for Tuesday night’s opener. Rose Nkumu, Nirel Lougbo, and Claire Kaifes looked like they were not dressed to play and in snazzy MU track suits against Alcorn State. Are they okay to go here? Are these long term injuries? Is it something else?
Is any of that going to matter against their second opponent of the season?
Game #2: vs NJIT Highlanders (0-1, 0-0 America East)
Marquette is 1-0 all time against NJIT. The only other meeting in the series was aaaaaaaaaall the way back in December 2009, and MU got the 81-41 victory in Milwaukee.
NJIT was picked to finish eighth in the 10 team America East this season. On Tuesday, they lost at home, 61-49, to Wagner, a team that was picked to finish second in the NEC. That one was close in the first quarter, which ended 16-15 favoring Wagner, and then NJIT lost the second quarter 12-7. They were chasing it the rest of the way, and that rest of the way ended up in a loss. It was not an aesthetically fun game with both teams shooting under 40%.
Trinity Williams came off the bench in the opener to lead the Highlanders in scoring. The 6’1” freshman forward from Pennsylvania had 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting, and the miss came on one of her two three-point attempts on the night. Lyzi Litwinko, a 5’8” guard, had a team high eight rebounds to go with her 10 points in the game, while Kenna Squier rounded out the trio of double digit scorers with 10 of her own. Squier was the leading scorer last season at 10.6 points per game while Litwinko was #3 at 8.6 a night. Odds are that Marquette will see a lot of them on Friday night.
At least for one game, NJIT has taken a turn from the last couple of years worth of playing style. Each of the past two years, the Highlanders have been in the top 80 in the country in terms of three-point rate, or how often they hoist it from outside. Their rate was 33% two seasons ago and 34.7% last year. Against Wagner? Just 29.3%. That’s a pretty steep drop, but it could just be how they were defended for one 40 minute session.