So now we know that Liza Karlen is out indefinitely with a mouth injury.
It’s unclear how much that may or may not affected Marquette women’s basketball last time out as the Golden Eagles never got out of the gate for their visit to then-#25 Creighton last Sunday. After all, Marquette failed to get out of the gate in the last three games that Karlen did play in, and MU seemed to be just fine against DePaul in the first game that she missed.
The good news for Marquette is the long stretch against the top end teams in the Big East has come to an end. Saturday presents them with an opportunity to put a win up on the board against a team that they’re (sorry, Friars) obviously favored to beat and finish ahead of in the standings. Can they use the game to unlock whatever problems have been plaguing them since the Colorado contest?
Or is there no chance for that? What is it about the last few weeks that has Marquette flailing around on offense to start contests and then finding themselves unable to recover? Is it a systemic problem with this roster? Can Megan Duffy and her staff find something to shift to get things going in a hurry? Is it just a case of “the shots aren’t falling early, and it all goes to hell?”
It’s kind of important to answer these questions now. Saturday is but an oasis in the schedule for Marquette. Next Wednesday brings a trip to see St. John’s, although the Johnnies aren’t quite the team that started the year off with a long winning streak, and that’s followed up by a home date with Seton Hall. The Pirates are the squad that handed MU their first Big East loss in South Orange earlier this season, so beating them in Milwaukee is no guarantee. That will bring MU to the mid-point of the Big East schedule, and so they’re very much at risk of getting there with a sub-.500 record at 3-4 through seven contests.
Stat Watch: Jordan King needs 10 points to tie and 11 points to pass Lori Goerlitz for 27th place on the all time scoring list, and 13 to pass Heidi Bowman in 26th place.
Stat Watch #2: Chloe Marotta needs four rebounds to tie and five to pass Christina Quaye for the 11th most rebounds in program history.
Stat Watch #3: Jordan King is two assists away from tying and three away from passing Baylor head coach Nicki Collen for the eighth most in program history.
Big East Game #8: vs Providence Friars (11-7, 2-5 Big East)
Marquette is 22-6 all time against Providence. After sweeping the season series last year, the Golden Eagles have now won 11 straight games against the Friars. Just think, this series was once only 11-6 favoring MU.
Non-conference play went about as you’d expect for Providence, a team that was picked to finish eighth in the Big East this season. They went 9-2, winning all nine games they played against teams that are currently somewhere south of 200 in the NET and losing to the pair of top 100 teams that they played. Both were on the road, and both were close: 74-72 against in-state rival Rhode Island and 73-64 against local rival Boston College.
Big East play did not start out well for the Friars at all, but that’s what happens when you draw Connecticut, Villanova, and St. John’s all in a row for your first three games. The first and third coming on the road didn’t help, nor did a road trip to DePaul for Game #4. That’s how you start out 0-4.... and that’s what makes their 79-75 win at #25 Creighton all the more impressive. Thrashing around for a win at all, they had to visit a top 25 team and then smashed them 24-11 in the third quarter to take control and hung on for the W. That’s pretty great.
Sure, they followed it up with a 16 point home loss to Seton Hall, but you gotta take your wins where you can get them after PC went 6-14 in Big East play last year. They did beat Xavier at home in their most recent contest, 64-50, and that pulled them even with last year’s win total with 11 on the season. Every win from here on out is an improvement for Providence, so that’s good news for them.
The Friars are one of the slower paced teams in the country according to Her Hoop Stats (#273 in possessions per 40 minutes) so keep that in mind when I tell you that Janai Crooms is their leading scorer at 12.3 per game. Olivia Olsen is the only other double digit scorer at 11.9 a night, but they do have three women playing over 23 minutes a night and averaging north of eight points a game. One of those three is Grace Efosa, a 5’11” junior guard who just smoked Creighton for 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting, all inside the arc. In other words, the Friars are a little bit comfortable with the idea of letting whoever has it going keep it going.
If watching out for a hot streak is of prime concern, Marquette is going to have to limit chances by Brynn Farrell and Meghan Huerter. The pair are PC’s only real long range shooting threats, both in terms of attempts and success rate. They’re the only players averaging more than three triples per game and they’re both north of four a night. On top of that, they’re the only players hitting threes with the effectiveness that you need to see from shooters. Farrell is connecting on nearly 37% of her attempts, while Huerter is at 34.2%.