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Marquette Women’s Basketball Announces The 2021-22 Non-Conference Schedule

The Golden Eagles will have nine game on the slate, with four straight coming away from the McGuire Center.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 05 SEC Women’s Tournament - Georgia vs Alabama Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

And so, finally, just before we got to September, Megan Duffy and Marquette women’s basketball has announced their non-conference schedule.

There are nine games on the schedule, with five of them coming at the McGuire Center. Two games are true road games, while the other two will be in Florida over Thanksgiving weekend as part of the Daytona Beach Invitational. Only one of the true road games — a visit to Colorado — involves Marquette actually leaving the city much less the state, as they’ll be facing their crosstown rival for that one... and it might be a pretty great game, too.

Enough preamble and silliness. Let’s jump right in and take a peek at what the Golden Eagles have coming their way once November gets here......

Tuesday, November 9: vs Alcorn State Braves

2020-21 Record: 7-13, 7-8 SWAC
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #299
Head Coach: Nate Kilbert, in his second season at Alcorn State and 20th as a head coach after stints at Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas Pine Bluff.
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 1-0

I’m not saying I’m thrilled about Marquette scheduling teams down towards the very bottom of the national rankings the year previous, but I get that you want to schedule a buy game victory in Game #1, so it is what it is. The Braves will be without last year’s top scorer Kirdis Clark, who was also their only double digit scorer a year ago. That makes Cayla Obillo the leading returning scorer after going for 8.7 per game last season, and everyone else who averaged at least four points per game returns as well. As a result of that very deep returning players list, head coach Nate Kilbert also has his top three rebounders coming back. Clark operated as a bit of a playmaker on the roster, finishing second on the team in total assists last season, so that void will have to be filled, but again: Everyone else who dished at least 10 assists last season returns.

Friday, November 12: vs NJIT Highlanders

2020-21 Record: 4-14, 4-9 America East
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #274
Head Coach: Mike Lane, in his fourth season at NJIT and overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 1-0

NJIT’s first season in the America East Conference.... was not a success. Then again, their last few years in the ASun were also not a success — they never won more than nine games in a season in their last five campaigns — so there’s that.

The Highlanders were not a painfully slow team last season, ranking #178 in possessions per 40 minutes. However, only Kenna Squier managed to break into double digits in scoring at 10.6 per game. Ellyn Stoll was a near miss at 9.4 per contest, though. All told, everyone who averaged at least three points per game last season returns for Mike Lane, but there is the age old question of “if you return everyone from a bad team, how much better can you actually get?” Lyzi Litwinko, a 5’8” guard from Connecticut, was the team leader in rebounds and assists per game at 6.4 and 3.1 per game respectively. Something to watch out for: NJIT loved to shoot threes AND get to the line last season, so that’s an interesting combination of offensive attacks that the Golden Eagles will have to be careful with when the Highlanders come to town.

Monday, November 15: vs Southern Jaguars

2020-21 Record: 12-11, 11-4 SWAC
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #175
Head Coach: Carlos Funchess, in his fourth season at Southern and fourth overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: This will be the first ever meeting.

Well, I’d like to tell you a lot about the Jaguars here, but they don’t have a roster up right now. This isn’t “they haven’t turned the page to 2021-22 yet,” this is “there’s no one on the 2021-22 roster page except the coaches.”

Obviously, at a glance, you say to yourself, “aw, man, a second SWAC team inside of the first week, come on, Coach Duffy!” But, I point you towards that #175 in the Her Hoops Rankings and suggest that this might be a sneaky good test for Marquette once they get a couple of games under their belt..... if the Lady Jaguars have a roster to go with it. Their top two scorers — the only women averaging over eight points a game last year — were both seniors, so there’s no guarantee that they’re back even with the bonus year of eligibility. Southern might be strong on the glass, as they, in theory, have a pair of six-footers who were one-two in rebounding last season in Taneara Moore and Raven White...... but again, I have no idea if they’re actually still at Southern or not.

If nothing else, Southern has been a pretty respectable defensive team for the past two seasons under Funchess, ranking in HHS’s top 70 both years. His teams have been trending up in the defensive department since year one, improving each successive year, so I’d imagine that will be an emphasis for them again this coming season.

Friday, November 19: at Colorado Buffaloes

2020-21 Record: 12-11, 8-8 Pac-12
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #126
Head Coach: JR Payne, in her sixth season at Colorado and 13th overall in Division 1.
All-Time Series: Tied at 1 each

The Buffs are searching for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013, and they are coming off a WNIT Quarterfinals appearance last spring. This will be Marquette’s first road game of the season, so that always provides a certain amount of uncertainty as to how things are going to go, and it’s clear that Colorado isn’t going to be a pushover.

All three women who averaged at least 10 points per game last season return for Colorado, with Mya Hollingshed and her 15.4 per contest leading the way. She’s a fifth year player hailing from Houston, and Marquette’s best way of defending her is going to be to try and get her to shoot three-pointers. She only connected on 28% last season, and quite honestly, every three that Hollingshed attempts is one that Frida Formann does not. The 5’11” guard from Denmark drained nearly 41% of her three-pointers last season while leading the team in attempts by a wide, wide margin.

Friday, November 26: vs Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (Daytona Beach Invitational)

2020-21 Record: 17-8, 12-4 Conference USA
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #82
Head Coach: Rick Insell, in his 17th season at MTSU and overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: This will be the first ever meeting.

Now, at a glance, you might see MTSU on the schedule and think “ah well, they’re probably better than the SWAC teams at least, right?” Well, let me tell you what: MTSU has been about as successful as you might want a team to be under Rick Insell. 10 NCAA tournament appearances in his time with the Blue Raiders, although admittedly, things have cooled off, as they’ve only been to three in the eight years since they moved from the Sun Belt to Conference USA. Still, Insell has guided the squad to at least the WNIT in all but one of his seasons in charge, and the one that he missed was 2020. They’ve at least gotten the second round of the WNIT in four of the five years that they were in that tournament, and they’re coming off a regular season and tournament championship along with the NCAA appearance that comes with it.

With that said, MTSU might have some growing pains early in the season. They’re losing their top three scorers in the Hayes sisters and Deja Cage, and that’s about 50 points a game worth of production, 26.5 points per game from just Anastasia Hayes alone. Courtney Whitson is now the leading returning scorer, and she averaged 10.6 ppg last season. Whitson, a 6’0” forward from Kingsport, TN, was also the leading rebounder on the team at 7.7 per contest, which does give the coaching staff a good cornerstone to start this year’s team off.

Saturday, November 27: vs Georgia Bulldogs (Daytona Beach Invitational)

2020-21 Record: 21-7, 10-5 SEC
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #15
Head Coach: Joni Taylor, in her seventh season at Georgia and overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: Tied at 1 each

As you can see from the HHS ranking, Joni Taylor has quite the team going on in Athens. She has gotten the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in three of the five seasons that she could, since 2020 was wiped out by the pandemic although UGA probably would have been outside looking in anyway.

Georgia’s top two scorers are back from last year’s NCAA tournament team. Jenna Staiti, a 6’4” center, led the team in scoring at 14.8 points and in rebounding as well at 8.1 per game. Que Morrison, a 5’7” guard, averaged 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and led the team in assists, too. Both are listed as Graduate Students on the roster, so that definitely sounds like both women are returning for their extra year of eligibility. Being able to get your top scorer, rebounder, and passer in two returning is a rare commodity, and getting them as players with more experience than your average senior is pretty good stuff as well.

Wednesday, December 8: at Milwaukee Panthers

2020-21 Record: 20-8, 15-5 Horizon League
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #52
Head Coach: Kyle Rechlicz, in her 10th season at Milwaukee and overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 31-20

UWM had themselves a heck of a season last year, going 15-5 in conference play, reaching the semifinals of the Horizon League tournament and advancing to the second round of the WNIT as well. It was just the sixth postseason appearance in Milwaukee hoops history, and their first since getting to the second round of the WNIT in 2018.

Rechlicz is going to have three of her top four scorers from last season back for this coming winter. Megan Walstad was the top scorer at 12.0 points per game, and she’ll double as the leading returning rebounder since #2 scorer and top rebounder Brandi Bisping is the top four scorer that isn’t back. Sydney Staver was good for just under 10 points a game last season, and McKaela Schmelzer chipped in 6.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and a team high 3.4 assists per game as well. Staver might be the one who needs to pick up her scoring the most, as nearly half of her field goal attempts came from behind the three-point line a year ago, and she hit 40% of them.

Saturday, December 11: vs North Dakota Fighting Hawks

2020-21 Record: 2-19, 2-13 Summit League
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #263
Head Coach: Mallory Bernhard in her second season at North Dakota and overall in Division 1, but first without an interim tag
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 1-0

Marquette’s final two non-conference games will be home games against teams that the Golden Eagles saw on the road last season in the non-con. North Dakota’s season did... not.. go well after MU beat them in the opener, it seems.

6’2” forward Olivia Lane is UND’s top returning scorer after averaging 8.3 points in 15 appearances last season. She’s also the leading returning rebounder at 5.5 per game. All told, Bernhard has lost three of her top five scorers from the 2020-21 roster. That’s not really what you want to see happen, but maybe this is a chance for her to start fresh-ish as things did not go in North Dakota’s direction the other way. For whatever it’s worth, Marquette only won by eight in last year’s season opener.

Wednesday, December 22: vs Cincinnati Bearcats

2020-21 Record: 8-16, 6-12 American
2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Final Ranking: #207
Head Coach: Michelle Clark-Heard, in her fourth season at Cincinnati and 10th overall in Division 1
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 23-13

Cincinnati depended heavily on Ilmar’l Thomas to do things last season. She was the only player who made more than 100 field goals, she was the only player who attempted more than 210 field goals, she was the only player averaging in double digits every night at 23.7 points per game, and she led the team in rebounding (7.5) and assists (3.3) as well.

And she is not back after her senior season last year.

Caitlyn Wilson and Jillian Hayes are the top two returning scorers at 9.6 points and 7.6 points per game respectively. Hayes added 5.3 rebounds per game as well, and Arame Niang’s 6.2 rebounds a night are back for a graduate year with the Bearcats. Whatever last year was or was not for the Bearcats, 2021-22 is definitely going to be different for them. For better? For worse? We’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s the whole schedule in grid form, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

2021-22 Women’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

Date Opponent Time (CT)
Date Opponent Time (CT)
Tues., Nov. 9 Alcorn State TBD
Fri., Nov. 12 NJIT TBD
Mon., Nov. 15 Southern TBD
Fri., Nov. 19 at Colorado TBD
Fri., Nov. 26 vs Middle Tennessee State (Daytona Beach) 11:00 AM
Sat., Nov. 27 vs Georgia (Daytona Beach) 1:15 PM
Wed., Dec. 8 at Milwaukee TBD
Sat., Dec. 11 North Dakota TBD
Wed., Dec. 22 Cincinnati TBD