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2022 WNIT Third Round Preview: Marquette vs Toledo

The Golden Eagles host the Rockets with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Toledo v Northern Illinois Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2022 Women’s National Invitational Tournament

Third Round

Marquette Golden Eagles (23-10, 13-7 Big East) vs Toledo Rockets (28-5, 19-1 MAC)

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloHoops, with Patrick Reed & Michelle Griffin-Wenzel calling the action.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
All-Time Series: Marquette leads 4-1, with Toledo overcoming a 15 point deficit in Milwaukee to snap MU’s four game win streak in the most recent meeting in December 2012.

At a glance, it looks like Marquette has cruised into the WNIT’s third round. They beat Ball State by 23 behind 24 points from a hot shooting Karissa McLaughlin... but that was an 11 point game with 90 seconds left to go in the third quarter. Marquette’s 15 point final margin against Purdue looks pretty comfortable, especially if someone tells you that Lauren Van Kleunen had a career high 27 points..... but the Golden Eagles were up just eight heading into the fourth quarter, only five with seven minutes left, and still only in the single digits with less than four minutes to go. The good news about it is that Marquette has been holding leads and just needed to slam the door closed both times, and more importantly, they did exactly that.

All of that is important because we should probably talk about why Toledo is in the WNIT. The Rockets were the regular season champions in the MAC. They closed the regular season on an 11 game winning streak and had lost just once since before Christmas.... up until they got knocked off by Ball State in the MAC tournament semifinals. They didn’t have anything resembling a case for an at-large bid to the NCAAs after that as they didn’t play a single NET top 25 team and went 1-3 against their top 100 opponents. The point of the story is that this will be MU’s toughest test of the WNIT so far, even though they’ve already beaten that Ball State squad by 23.

Toledo got to the third round of the WNIT with a pair of home wins. They knocked off Houston Baptist by 10 points in the first round, 61-51, after leading by 15 at the end of the first quarter. In round two, they ended up with a MAC regular season rematch with Kent State. A 20-9 second quarter tipped the game in their favor as they went on to win 79-59.

The Rockets got past Houston Baptist with a team game, as three players all scored 12 points and Jessica Cook led the squad with 13 as well as five rebounds. The Kent State game was a different story, as Quinesha Lockett went for a game high 25 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Lockett is the overall scoring leader this season, going for 17.5 points a night along with 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. That 2-for-3 long range shooting is an outlier for her, as Locket is only connecting on 28% from long range even though she leads Toledo in attempts at over six a game. If MU can get her to fall in love with shots she’s missing, that’s going to solve a lot of problems on defense since no one else even averages 10 shots a game for the Rockets. Sophia Wiard is the #2 option on offense to the tune of 12.6 points per game. No one else averages more than nine a night, so honing in on either the 5’10” Lockett or the 5’7” Wiard is clearly the path forward for MU’s defense.

Marquette’s offense is going to need to be on point in this game. The Golden Eagles have made a lot of things easier for themselves this season by gathering up misses for a second chance. Head coach Megan Duffy wants those rebounds, and her team gets them: Marquette is ranked #20 in the country by in offensive rebounding rate. That’s good..... but Toledo can match them. Not off their own misses, no, on the defensive glass. The Rockets are HHS’ #7 defensive rebounding rate squad in the country, allowing less than 25% of misses to their opponents this year. That’s a far cry from Marquette’s average of 38%. If the Golden Eagles can hit their shots to start with and then at least get their OR% into the 30s, I think we can count that a win for the home team.

The winner of this game will advance to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The opponent on that end of things will be either Middle Tennessee State, a team that Marquette beat in overtime back in November, or Vanderbilt. Those two teams face off on the other side of the bracket on Thursday night with a 6:30pm Central time start in Middle Tennessee’s gym.