Marquette women’s basketball had two straight games over the weekend end in essentially the same manner, and neither one was good news for the Golden Eagles.
On Friday night, MU went out to Philadelphia and controlled Villanova for about 39 minutes but left the door open juuuuuuust enough for Maddy Siegrist to force overtime on them. That led the Wildcats to run away with the thing in the extra five minutes. Change location back to Milwaukee for Sunday’s game against #8 Connecticut, and it was an awful lot of the same. Marquette and UConn were going shot for shot for a little over 30 minutes of game time, and then the Huskies just turned on the “ranked in the top 10” afterburners, picked up the defensive intensity, and ran away with it.
Generally speaking, that’s bad. It’s hard to really fault Megan Duffy’s team for the UConn end of things, because it’s UConn. “We only have six players that we trust to play” UConn, but it’s still UConn. The Villanova one is a little bit more patience testing because .... well, there’s no other way to say this: If Marquette wanted to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, they really needed to go 1-1 last weekend.
Case in point: Marquette went from “last team in” last week when ESPN’s Charlie Creme forecasted the NCAA tournament bracket. After those two losses? Third team outside the field of 68. It’s not what you want. Neither is that #62 ranking in the NET as of Tuesday morning.
The good news? Marquette gets a chance to play a top 50 NET team on the road on Wednesday night, one that they’ve already beaten at home this season. Even better? Creme has the opponent in question cleanly inside the tournament, four lines clear of the First Four grouping. If the Golden Eagles can get their act together and play quality hoops for 40 straight minutes, all the way to the final horn and get that W? Beat an NCAA tournament caliber team for just the third time this season? Maybe we’re talking about signs of life.
Big East Game #16: at RV DePaul Blue Demons (20-7, 12-4 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Streaming: FloHoops with Dave Bernhard, Patricia Babcock-McGraw, and Meghan Caffrey calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 31-48 all time against DePaul. The Golden Eagles took a 5-4 advantage in the last nine contests when they won in overtime in Milwaukee earlier this season, and that gave MU two straight wins in the series as well.
Things went pretty well for DePaul after they lost in overtime to Marquette. They immediately won their next four games, suffered a two point home loss to Connecticut, and then tacked on two more wins for a 6-1 stretch. It’s been a bit of a rough stretch since then, though. They lost by nine at home to Creighton, which isn’t really a problem since the Bluejays are pretty good this season. After thumping Providence at home, they went out to Storrs and got hammered by 24 by the Huskies. Two days later, this past Sunday afternoon, they needed double overtime to beat Georgetown at McDonough Arena.
Just to be clear: It was DePaul that provoked the overtimes. Aneesah Morrow scored at the horn to force the game into extra time in the first place. Sure, it was Georgetown that scored last in the first overtime to tie the game at 94, but DePaul 1) blew a four point lead with 1:49 to go and 2) missed a shot with 20 seconds left and turned it over with seven seconds left. They were lucky to get to a second set of five bonus minutes, and even then, Georgetown had a shot to force a third session.
This is going to sound a little bit weird, but I think the team that learned the most from the first meeting this season is going to have a significant advantage in this game. That first game was weird. It was 31-25 Marquette at the half, and 48-42 DePaul in the second half. The Blue Demons literally scored more points in the third quarter — 28 — than they did in the entire first half. It took a long, long, long time for that game to turn into the usual track meet that you expect to see when Marquette and DePaul hook it up. Someone is going to come away from that game with a “when we made this change, things really started cooking for us” key and that’s going to entire alter how this game plays out relative to the first one.
Aneesah Morrow led the Blue Demons in scoring the first time around, going for 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting with just one long range shot (a miss) to her name. She also had 17 rebounds and five blocks against the Golden Eagles, so Marquette’s key might just be figuring out how to corral Morrow. She is DePaul’s top scorer, so it’s not exactly a secret that MU needs to defend her a little bit more than the other Blue Demons. She gives them nearly 21 points a night as well as 13.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals, and 1.9 blocks.
DePaul’s other four starters are all scoring in double digits this season, with Darrione Rogers bringing up the rear at 10.1 per game. Doug Bruno does not like using his bench all that much with just one non-starter appearing in more than 20 games this season, and only two more women — Kierra Collier and Dee Bekelja — are playing minutes worth mentioning when they get into a game. With that in mind, I think it’s reasonable to wonder how much the grind of the season has to do with DePaul scuffling against the Hoyas. The Blue Demons fell apart down the stretch last season, and that one was a particularly mentally and emotionally taxing season.
Marquette has to be wary of DePaul’s three-point shooting in this game. The Blue Demons are shooting 35% as a team with Rogers and Lexi Held knocking down over 40% of their attempts. For all of the good work that they do as a team behind the three-point line, DePaul just doesn’t shoot that many threes. Her Hoop Stats as them at #139 in the country in attempt rate this season with just 30% of their shots coming from behind the arc. In general, that works to MU’s advantage. Only three teams in the country play faster than DePaul, but if the Blue Demons aren’t launching threes with that tempo, then that allows Marquette to not have to worry about trying to match them, which is a notable weakness of this year’s Golden Eagles squad.
Big East Game #17: at Georgetown Hoyas (7-15, 2-12 Big East)
Marquette is 23-4 all time against Georgetown. After the 68-32 win at the McGuire Center earlier this season, the Golden Eagles have now won nine straight against the Hoyas and 12 of the last 13.
You already saw Georgetown’s record in the league at the top of the section, so I don’t have to do a lot of convincing to tell you that things have not gone well for them since MU beat them by 36. They had come in to that game on a three game winning streak technically speaking since that was their first game in over a month, and they followed it up with six more losses, including a 33 point drubbing at the hands of DePaul. After winning at home against Butler (that’s “still winless in the league” Butler, by the way), the Hoyas have post five more losses.
On the upside, two of their last three losses were close, or at least closer than their other losses. They only lost by 10 to Seton Hall on February 9th, and there was of course the double OT loss to DePaul on Sunday. Both of those games were at home at McDonough Arena, so if you wanted to feel a particular kind of trepidation about this game, that seems fair.
The first meeting this season was out of control for Georgetown out of the gate as Karissa McLaughlin hit a three for the first points of the game and jumpstart a 7-for-14 long range shooting performance from the grad transfer. It was 21-9 after 10 minutes, and McLaughlin was being Georgetown by herself, 12-9, at that point. She had five threes with 6:53 to go before halftime, so a big question for this version of this matchup has to be whether or not Georgetown does anything about that. In Milwaukee, it almost looked like they forget to check a stat sheet and/or do a scouting report of any kind. Can they learn anything from how that went to make things uncomfortable for McLaughlin and the Golden Eagles?
Milan Bolden-Morris and Kelsey Ransom are tied for the team lead in scoring at this point of the season, with each woman going for 12.9 points per game. They’re the only Hoyas getting more than nine points a night, so isolating them is going to be crucial to Marquette’s efforts. The Golden Eagles did exactly that the first time around, as they were held to a combined 4-for-21 shooting night and just nine total points. Jillian Archer is the top rebounder on the squad at 7.5 per game, and she didn’t even play against Marquette the first time around. The Golden Eagles made use of a second chance on over 45% of their misses in that game, so if Archer is available here, she might make a dent in that number.