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2021 Big East Women’s Basketball Semifinals Preview: #2 Marquette vs #6 Creighton

We get bird-on-bird violence with a trip to the title game on the line.

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

2021 BIG EAST WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

SEMIFINALS

#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (18-5, 14-4 Big East) vs #6 Creighton Bluejays (9-10, 6-7 Big East)

Date: Sunday, March 7, 2021
Time: 5pm Central
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
Television: FS1, with Lisa Byington and Sarah Kustok on the call
Streaming: FoxSportsGo.com
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Season Series: Marquette won, 2-0
All-Time Series: Creighton leads, 14-11
Current Streak: Marquette has won seven of the last 11 and each of the last three meetings.

We arrive at Sunday’s semifinals with Marquette dispatching #7 seeded Providence in the quarterfinals to get here. It was a relatively easy win for the Golden Eagles as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead on the Friars and didn’t have to worry about too much after that on their way to a 25 point win. Lauren Van Kleunen and Camryn Taylor tore it up in the paint to guide the Golden Eagles while star guard Selena Lott was taken out of the equation on offense, at least in the scoring department.

Creighton, on the other hand, is on their third game in three days on Sunday. As the #6 seed, the Bluejays had to play Georgetown, the worst team in the Big East, in the first round of the tournament on Friday afternoon. It looked like that was going Creighton’s way as they built a 12 point lead in the third quarter, but the Hoyas cut that down to just one point late in the period and made the Jays work over the final 10 minutes to secure the 56-42 victory.

The Bluejays were favored by seeding in that game, which was not the case on Saturday night. Seton Hall was the fresh team as the top three teams in the league all got to play a team that had been in action on Friday. The #3 seeded Pirates were up by five after 10 minutes and by as many as 10 at a couple of spots in the second quarter. Threes started raining in for Creighton in the third, as Temi Carda, Dearica Pryor, and Morgan Maly all splashed one in to slash a 10 point deficit down to just two. The two sides took turns making plays until a three by Pryor with 4:01 to play gave the Bluejays the lead for good. They had to make plays on both ends down the stretch and even in the final minute as SHU’s Lauren Park-Lane cut the margin to three, 77-74, on a triple with 32 seconds to play. Carda’s free throw shooting came through in the clutch, and the Bluejays advanced to the semifinals for the fifth time in six years.

In the first meeting between Marquette and Creighton this season, Camryn Taylor messed up the Bluejays’ entire deal to the tune of 27 points as MU won 66-53 in Omaha. In the second meeting in Milwaukee, Marquette ripped off 10 straight points to end the first quarter and stake themselves to a 13 point lead. 12 of MU’s 18 points in the first quarter came from Lauren Van Kleunen, who finished that 65-41 victory with 20 points.

The key for Marquette on Sunday will be stopping Temi Carda. The senior from Minnesota has posted career highs in points in both of Creighton’s tournament games so far, and her 15.3 per game on the season leads the Bluejays. Carda is more likely than not to play the whole game as she’s averaging over 37 minutes per game, so if MU can merely get her off the floor with fouls, that’s a win. If you take attempt rate into account, Carda is Creighton’s biggest three-point shooting weapon, even though only about one-quarter of her shots come from behind the arc.

While very few Bluejays players have appeared in all 19 games this season and even fewer have started even a majority of them, it’s starting to seem that head coach Jim Flanery is getting the feel for what his roster has available at this point of the season. Freshman Emma Ronsiek has turned into a reliable second option behind Carda. The South Dakota native is the only other active player getting them at least 11 points per game.

Marquette will have to be careful with Creighton’s three-point shooting. As a team, the Bluejays are a top 100 shooting percentage team, and they rank #14 in the country in terms of the frequency with which they shoot the long balls according to HerHoopStats.com. If they get hot, that’s bad news for the Golden Eagles, because then they’ll just keep throwing those shots up and they’ll probably keep going in. Morgan Maly is CU’s most likely shooter at 4.9 per game and a 36% completion rate. Carda isn’t far behind that at 4.4 tries, and just under 40% of her shots go in.