Hey, I could say an awful lot of fun things about Marquette women’s basketball here, but we’re working on a short timeframe here after Saturday evening’s 68-61 win over #3 Texas. Yeah! That was neat. If you didn’t read the recap, go do that now. We’re going to go straight into the preview of the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal contest......
Game #5: vs RV Gonzaga Bulldogs (4-0)
Marquette is 2-1 all time against Gonzaga. All three meetings happened in consecutive seasons from 2006-07 to 2008-09. Marquette won the first and the third, both at home, while Gonzaga won the middle one in their gym.
Gonzaga moved to 4-0 on the season with their 79-67 overtime — yes, it was tied at 61 at the end of regulation — victory against #6 Louisville on Saturday night. That’s the good news about Marquette having less than 24 hours off between games: Gonzaga is getting even less time off and the Zags played an extra five minutes in their game. Four Bulldogs scored in double digits in that game, including Brynna Maxwell, who came off the bench for 21 points thanks to some 4-for-7 shooting from long range.
The Bulldogs are the pick to win the West Coast Conference this season, picking up all nine possible first place votes. This is not a surprise, as they have won 16 of the last 17 WCC titles as well as nine conference tournament titles along the way. In short: Yeah, they’re pretty good and they’re used to being pretty good. Kayleigh Truong, Kaylynne Truong, and Yvonne Ejim were all named to the preseason all-WCC team, giving Gonzaga a full 30% of the 10 woman team and no one else even had two representatives.
Ejim is the leading scorer on the roster at 19.3 points per game through their four contests, and she does it almost exclusively inside the arc. The 6’1” Canadian has only attempted four three-pointers all season, so don’t expect to see a lot of that from her. All told, there are five Bulldogs averaging in double-digits in the scoring department with both Truongs — yes, they’re twin sisters — joining Ejim along with Brynna Maxwell and Eliza Hollingsworth all between 13 points and 10.3 points per game.
Her Hoop Stats’ probability generator heavily favors Gonzaga in this contests even with MU having their B4A game logged and Gonzaga’s still to come. 72.8% chance of victory for Gonzaga is pretty noticeable, particularly when HHS said that the MU/Texas game was pretty much 50/50 on a neutral floor. At a glance, it seems like Gonzaga is going to want to play slower than Marquette, although Megan Duffy’s system isn’t 100% predicated on speed anyway. Gonzaga is a much better three-point shooting team, although Maxwell cashing 65% and Hollingsworth hitting 50% isn’t going to last very much longer.
As always, because of Megan Duffy’s preferences, we have to look at the rebounding numbers for both squads here. So far this season, Gonzaga loves to haul in offensive rebounds, just like the Golden Eagles, and the numbers are pretty similar to what they were last year as well. We’ll call that a point of emphasis for sure. On the defensive end.... well, Gonzaga was a top 100 defensive rebounding team in terms of rate last season according to Her Hoop Stats, but they’re down a little more than three percentage points from last year’s mark so far in 2022-23. That gives the Golden Eagles the advantage on the glass, ever so slightly. Take into account that Texas got to over 46% of their misses on Saturday evening, and I think it’s safe to say that Megan Duffy is going to wake up in the morning telling her team to go get rebounds if they want to get a second straight win in the Bahamas.