Back to Big East play for Marquette, but not for good. As was the case earlier in the season, women’s basketball in the league has to fit in their 20 game slate in one week less than the men’s side of the aisle due to the timing of the conference tournament, so these games get slated when they get slated. MU has just one game this weekend, which is weird since you would think it makes the most sense to knock out the road trip against St. John’s while you’re in the New York City area, but apparently not all the sense in the world. In any case, the Golden Eagles will still have one more non-conference game to go after Sunday’s game before it’s nothing but Big East games the rest of the way down.
To refresh you on where things stand in the Big East so far this season, Marquette is 2-0 after opening up with an easy win over Xavier and a much harder than it had any business being win over Butler, with both games coming at the McGuire Center. That obviously has MU in first place in the early goings and heading into the weekend and it’s either a three way or five way tie for first, depending on how you look at it.
If you want to say “first place is 2-0, no exceptions,” then Marquette is tied with DePaul and Creighton. It’s not crazy to say “anyone undefeated can lay claim to being in first,” which means that we have to acknowledge that UConn and St. John’s are both 1-0 so far.
This game is potentially a pivotal one for Marquette, even though it’s only just three games into the league calendar. It’s not because it’s their first road game of the slate, although that’s definitely part of it. There’s the “holding on to first place” angle, which is notable. The Golden Eagles will also be facing a team that was picked to finish in front of them in the standings. You know what a good way to finish ahead of the teams picked in front of you is? Beating those teams! In any case, if Seton Hall and Marquette end up jostling for conference tournament seeds down the road, then gaining a win in the front end of the home-and-home series gives the Golden Eagles the advantage if it comes down to that.
As we’ll get to in a minute, Seton Hall is not off to the best start in Big East play as you can tell from the fact that they’re not in the “in first place” discussion. It definitely won’t hurt Marquette’s situation if they go ahead and kick the Pirates while they’re down.
Big East Game #3: at Seton Hall Pirates (4-5, 0-2 Big East)
Date: Sunday, December 19, 2021
Time: 11am Central
Location: Walsh Gym, South Orange, New Jersey
Television: FS1, with John Fanta and Kim Adams on the call
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 16-9 all time against Seton Hall. The Pirates have now won two straight in the series, which means MU has won eight of the last 11. The two teams only met once last season, as the game in Milwaukee ended up postponed and eventually canceled.
Things are not going well for Seton Hall, relatively speaking. The Pirates were picked to finish third in the Big East this season, one spot in front of Marquette. So far, through nine games, they have yet to win back-to-back games. It’s not all bad news, as they only have one loss that’s currently outside the NET top 80. At least at this point of the season, you can look at the Pirates and say, ah, yes, well, they challenged themselves with their non-conference schedule and it is just not working out for them. That’s not ideal, and it’s left them under .500 right now, but at least they’ve had quality opponents.
Where they start to get into problems is their one loss outside the top 80. Not only is is to a sub-100 team, but it’s also to a conference foe, as they lost to St. John’s, 88-75, at Carnesecca Arena. That’s really not what you want, especially if you think you’re heading towards an NCAA tournament bid. That loss to the Johnnies dropped Seton Hall to 0-2 in league action because they opened up with a 74-49 loss to UConn.
Part of Seton Hall’s problems can be attributed to their lineup being a mess. Lauren Park-Lane and Mya Jackson are the only Pirates to start all nine games and only Mya Bembry and Katie Armstrong join LPL and Jackson in playing in all nine contests. Andra Espinoza-Hunter missed the UConn game, while Sidney Cooks missed the opener against Mount St. Mary’s, but other than that, those two have appeared and started in every other game and logged heavy minutes along the way as well.
Park-Lane is the top scorer on the team, coming in at 18.4 per game. Espinoza-Hunter and Cooks are the #2 and #3 scorers on the team respectively, as well as the only other two women north of 10 points per game. Cooks is also the top rebounder at 6.0 per contest, while AEH is right behind her at 5.8. Park-Lane dominates the passing game for the Pirates, dishing out 59 of the team’s 119 assists on the season. That’s just barely under 50% of the team total and just over a 37% assist rate, which ranks #26 in the country per HerHoopStats.com.
Looking at the efficiency metrics involved here, it seems that Marquette holds the advantage here on both ends of the court. HHS has the Golden Eagles as a top 80 offense and a top 20 defense, while Seton Hall is outside the top 100 on offense and nearly into the 300s on defense. Over the past two seasons, Seton Hall’s defensive posture towards Marquette has worked pretty well as evidenced by the two losses, but that’s because they were able to key in on Selena Lott. For the past two years, if you could take Lott away, you took away a lot of what made the MU offense work. That’s not the case this season, as Lott is now playing professionally. I don’t think keying on Jordan King or Karissa McLaughlin will have the same impact on the game, so we’ll have to wait and see what SHU head coach Tony Bozzella has cooked up for this one.
We know Marquette wants to rebound the ball and score off the pass. Seton Hall is going to have trouble stopping MU’s rebounding as they don’t rebound the ball well on either end of the court. SHU’s offensive rebounding struggles may be intentional, as it’s possible that the Pirates are choosing to be one of the 20 worst teams in the country in order to get back on defense. However, they’re bad at hauling in defensive rebounds too, so if MU’s dominant OR game is going, we could see a lot of second chance points for the Golden Eagles. Seton Hall is pretty good at denying assisted baskets, as HHS has them at #66 in the country there, so MU may have to be a little extra crafty and judicious with their entry passes.