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Marquette Women’s Basketball Big East Preview: at St. John’s

The Golden Eagles head to Queens with an eye on recording a second straight Big East win for the first time this season.

Big East Tournament Quarterfinals: St. John’s vs Creighton Getty Images

Can we talk about Emily La Chapell for a moment?

The Marquette Golden Eagles freshman started the first game of the year ..... and then struggled to get on the court regularly for the next month or so. But since December 10th, La Chapell has played at least 18 minutes in every one of Marquette’s games, and back on New Year’s Eve, head coach Megan Duffy put her back in the starting five and she’s stayed there over MU’s last four games.

In that four game stretch: La Chapell has scored in double digits three times, averaging 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals. She’s also connected on half of her 12 long range shots, and that gives her an effective field goal percentage of 53.3%. On Monday, La Chapell picked up her second Freshman of the Week award from the Big East, with both of them coming since the start of 2023 to officially throw her hat in the ring as a competitor to Georgetown’s Kennedy Fauntleroy for the end of the year version of that award.

Now, Marquette went 2-2 in this stretch, but gigantic caveats involved here: One of the losses was on the road against UConn, and after a 9-0 deficit to start the game, MU did frustrate the Huskies for the remainder of the game. The other loss was on the road against Creighton, and the Bluejays held La Chapell without a point. If she had gotten on the board, it probably wouldn’t have mattered all that much as MU eventually lost by 26 (sheesh), but the point of the story there is that La Chapell’s outage is demonstrative of exactly what kind of problems the entire team had down in Omaha.

Marquette desperately needs some kind of offensive juice going forward this season. Jordan King needed to put up a career high 31 points to drive the Golden Eagles to a win over Providence last time out. Did MU end up winning by more than 20? Yes! Was that margin in single digits as late as the 3:30 mark of the third quarter? Also yes! As coincidence would have it, it was a layup from La Chapell that pushed it over to double digits to stay.

With Liza Karlen sidelined with a mouth injury, Chloe Marotta’s handling a lot of interior things that she normally wouldn’t, which puts her at risk for fouls like we saw against Providence on Saturday. That’s why King had to carry the show.... but if La Chapell can start giving MU 10 points a night to help lighten the load.... that’s going to work out pretty dang well, not just this season, but down the line as her career continues, too.

But for now, the Golden Eagles need to be able to deliver punches on the offensive end if they want to be an NCAA tournament team. Back on Friday, ESPN’s Charlie Creme had Marquette as “Next Four Out” and if we’re being honest, beating Providence didn’t move the needle. The Golden Eagles have 12 more regular season games to push themselves back into the tournament discussion, and they’re going to need a lot more games like the last four from La Chapell to do that.

Big East Game #9: at St. John’s Red Storm (14-3, 5-3 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Jamaica, New York
Streaming: FloHoops, with Drew Casey, Kim Adams, and Meghan Caffrey calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 20-10 all time against St. John’s. After getting the season sweep last season, the Golden Eagles have now won seven straight contests against the Red Storm and 11 of the last 12 meetings. The only loss in that run? A trip to Carnesecca Arena in February 2019 when MU was ranked #8 in the country.

St. John’s had a pretty good start to the season. Staying perfect, thirteen wins and zero losses, on the year through New Year’s Eve is pretty good, no matter how you cut it. Unfortunately, we are here to cut it a little bit. As the calendar flipped to 2023, St. John’s had an 11-0 record against teams outside the top 100 of the NET and a 2-0 record against teams in the top 100. Four of the wins were against sub-250 teams. But, they did take advantage of their home court to beat then-#13 Creighton, and that pushed them towards the AP top 25, where they crested at #24 in the country.

Game #1 of 2023? Lost by 21 on the road against Seton Hall. Not great! They followed that up with a 19 point home win over Xavier, and then the schedule unfortunately dealt them a game against UConn that they moved to UBS Arena on Long Island (30 point loss), and then, in their most recent game, the Red Storm lost to #25 Villanova out at Finneran Pavilion on the Main Line. They didn’t just lose to Villanova, however. You can look at the box score yourself, when the fourth quarter started, the Johnnies were up 54-39. With 5:28 to go, Jayla Everett got an and-1 to go, and St. John’s led 59-43.

What happened? They gave up an 11-0 run to Maddy Siegrist. Not to Villanova, just to Siegrist, the reigning Big East Player of the Year and one of the best scorers in the country. Three minutes to play, St. John’s is up five. Two threes from Maddie Burke, St. John’s by one, 62 seconds left. Free throws from Siegrist, Villanova leads, 41 seconds left. Siegrist blocks Kadaja Bailey, St. John’s has to foul to extend the game, and that’s that.

And so now St. John’s isn’t even earning AP votes any more and they’ve lost three of their last four, with all three losses coming against top 50 NET teams. Is that a good thing for Marquette, currently sitting at #43 on Tuesday morning? Is that a bad thing for the Golden Eagles, as this means the Red Storm will be desperate to defend home court and steer their season back in a positive direction?

As seems to usually be the case for SJU head coach Joe Tartamella, he’s keeping his rotation incredibly small. Six women play at least 25 minutes per game this season, and yes, Danielle Patterson and Danielle Cosgrove are every night contributors, but their minutes are coming in at 14.1 and 8.1 per game. Notable, but not the core group. Jayla Everett, a 5’10” guard on her bonus year of eligibility after transferring from Pitt, is the leading scorer, which probably tells you something uncomplimentary about the head coach. Everett gets the Johnnies nearly 17 points a game, and she’s tied with Mimi Reid — also a transfer on her bonus season of eligibility — for the team lead in assists at 3.3 per game. Kadaja Bailey, a lanky 6-foot guard from New York in her fifth season of competition for the Johnnies, is the only other double digit scorer, going for 13.8 per game.

6’3” Rayven Peeples and 6’2” Jillian Archer make for a terrifying combo on the glass, averaging 9.0 and 8.6 rebounds per game respectively. Both women are getting it done on both ends of the court, as Her Hoop Stats has them in the top 215 in the country in individual rebound rate on both offense and defense. However, as a team, St. John’s only excels at offensive rebounding. HHS marks them as a top 40 offensive rebounding team by way of rate, so Marquette is going to need to box out efficiently once the Johnnies get a shot up. Conversely, even with Peeples and Archer out there with their Windex, the Johnnies aren’t getting it done on the defensive glass. #192 in the country in defensive rebounding rate, giving up over 31% of the other team’s misses back to them, is no good..... for St. John’s, but it’s very good for Marquette, a team that wants to clean the glass and prop up their offense with second chances.

The biggest thing that Marquette has to watch out for in this game is St. John’s getting hot from long range. Everett, Bailey, and Unique Drake are all 40%+ three-point shooters, and if we round Bailey up just a smidge, they’re all launching at least three times per game, led by Everett at more than six times per game. However, they’re the only three women that Marquette can expect to shoot from the arc with regularity or even make the shot regularly. With that in mind, Tartamella doesn’t point the offense in that direction. While the Red Storm ranks #37 in the country in three-point shooting percentage, HHS says they’re just #179 in the country in attempt rate relative to all the shots in their offense. That seems.... misguided. Still, if Everett gets comfortable with space to shoot it, things can get out of hand quickly for the Golden Eagles.