Home stretch time, y’all.
Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball has three regular season games left on the schedule. At 15-4 overall and 12-3 in the Big East, they’re in pretty good shape, but the astute fan has realized that two games are missing. 15 played and three to go means 18, and that’s not 20 for the full round robin in the league. Marquette never got home dates against Xavier or Seton Hall this year. That’s how it goes in a pandemic.
Thanks to recent results elsewhere in the Big East, things have turned these next two games into some pretty big ones on the schedule. Because Creighton beat DePaul (hey, that’s the two opponents we’re talking about here) on Saturday, that has thrust Marquette into second place in the Big East if you going by winning percentage. If you go by purely “who has the most wins” as the standings set up, MU still ends up second behind 15-0 UConn, as DePaul has only 10 wins in the league right now.
The point here is that Marquette is now in control of landing themselves in second place in the Big East conference tournament..... and thus avoiding Connecticut until the title game. I mean, sure, something weird could happen and jostle the Huskies out of first with three games to go..... but that seems unlikely, y’know? Marquette has to be favored to win on Monday night which will help inch them towards locking up that #2 spot. Wednesday’s road game is a lot more iffy in terms of winning, but it’s winnable. Knocking off DePaul would pretty much confirm MU as the #2 team in the standings this season, and that’s exactly what you want with a behemoth like the Huskies running around out there.
It also wouldn’t be a bummer for MU’s NCAA tournament situation. The Blue Demons are currently #64 in the ol’ NET, trailing along in third in the conference behind UConn (#2) and, would you look at that, Marquette at #39. In terms of bracketology, ESPN’s Charlie Creme hasn’t updated his bracket projection since we talked about it before the Villanova game. Obviously, with a win over the #68 NET team, Marquette is looking a wee bit more stable on being in the field than they were before snagging that victory. MU is a perfect 12-0 against sub-100 teams, and they only have one of those games left on the schedule.
That game, by chance, is Monday night’s contest.
Big East Game #16: vs Creighton Bluejays (7-8, 6-5 Big East)
Date: Monday, February 22, 2021
Time: 6pm Central
Location: A very empty Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 10-14 all time against Creighton. The Golden Eagles won earlier this season in Omaha to give them six of the last 10 in the series and each of the last two meetings as well.
In the game in Omaha earlier this season, Camryn Taylor carved up the Bluejays. She hit 12 of her 14 shot attempts and finished with 27 points to lead the Golden Eagles to the 66-53 victory. Nine straight points from Taylor in the third quarter tilted the game in favor of Marquette, as they ended up outscoring the Bluejays 28-15 in the period and were up 54-16 with 10 minutes to play.
Two things about this, though. The first is that Taylor isn’t going to play like this again. Between Creighton being able to scheme in her direction to take that away from Marquette and the mathematical truth that she’s not likely to shoot 86% from the field for another 40 minute stretch, even if it is on the rims that she’s more comfortable with. The second is that Taylor self-limited herself in the game by picking up a foul just 37 seconds into the game. If Taylor can merely stay out on the floor for five or six minutes in a row regularly, that’s going to absolutely ruin Creighton’s day because they’ll have to run around like chickens with their heads cut off tracking her down. In theory, Taylor just being on the floor should create enough of a gravity well for the rest of the MU offense to do their thing.
Creighton’s roster remains confusing. Temi Carda is the only Bluejay to play and start in all 15 games for head coach Jim Flanery. There are only four players to have played in all 15 games. The name that jumps off the page most at me is Mykel Parham, who has played and started in 13 games for Creighton. The reason why that’s pretty notable is that she played just three minutes against DePaul on Saturday and she’s the one that Taylor was just raining in 15 foot jumpers against in the first meeting. If Parham can’t go, that’s bad news for Creighton if they don’t have any other options to defend Taylor.
It seems likely that CU will be without Tatum Rembao on Monday as well. The senior from Colorado has played in just nine games this season, and one of the six she missed was the previous contest against Marquette. She played seven minutes against Georgetown on February 15th, but did not play on Saturday against DePaul. If Rembao, Creighton’s third leading scorer, couldn’t play then, she probably won’t be able to go 50-something hours later.
Big East Game #17: at #24 DePaul Blue Demons (13-5, 10-3 Big East)
Marquette is 29-48 all time against DePaul. The two teams have been splitting things relatively evenly lately, with each of the last six meetings before this season split 3-3. However, the Blue Demons did take the game earlier this year in Milwaukee, so they have won the last two encounters.
We should start by pointing out, in case you just skipped ahead to the DePaul part for some reason, that DePaul is only #19 as of Sunday when this is being written. The Blue Demons shot just 38% from the field on Saturday against Creighton and took their first loss since facing Connecticut on January 31st, and their first loss against anyone not named UConn since December 4th. There’s a new AP poll coming out on Monday, so we’ll see where they are when that happens. Given that it’s their first loss to an unranked team this year, there’s a real chance that DePaul will drop out of the poll completely.
UPDATE: They only dropped to #24.
I don’t know what to expect from this game. The first meeting between the two teams was weird. The first half was a great half, with MU trailing by just two at the break.... but then DePaul went on a 19-4 run in the front half of the third quarter...... and then Marquette closed the quarter on a 15-2 run. The net change in the lead was +2 to DePaul. Like I said, weird. Marquette extended their run into the fourth quarter and actually took the lead on a bucket by Jordan King. Camryn Taylor gave Marquette a lead with 3:21 to go. They trailed by 17 in the third quarter, but had the game in their hands with three minutes to go. Again: Weird.
At the end of the day, if Marquette doesn’t turn the ball over 22 times, they probably win the game. I mean, not if they turned it over 21 times. Knock that bad boy down to 15, though? Seems like those extra seven possessions could have been used to garner four extra points, and hey, MU only lost by two. See how that changes? The key to playing DePaul, at least for me, is to remember that their defense stinks. They are literally the worst field goal percentage defense in the country per HerHoopStats.com. You can nearly always score on them. You just have to be able to keep the ball long enough to get the shots you want.
Marquette did a relatively okay job at corralling DePaul’s three-point shooting in the game, holding them to just 33% from long range, and only letting them get 32% of their attempts from out there. That’s a little over and a little under their season averages according to HerHoopStats.com. You can accept letting them hit 33% of their attempts, because that’s not that bad of a number, and any time you can force a three-point oriented offense to do something different, you’re winning.
You just have to direct the shots to places that work for you. Sonya Morris (36%) going 3-for-5? Bad! Lexi Held (33%) going 1-for-5? Good! Dee Bekelja (28%) going 2-for-5? Seems like it was a good move to let her shoot, it just didn’t work out that way!