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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at #25 Creighton

The Bluejays are ranked by technicality only at this point, which provides the Golden Eagles with a big opportunity.

Big East Tournament First Round: Marquette v Creighton Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

GOOD NEWS: Marquette shook off a three game losing streak by coming out of the gate firing against DePaul on Wednesday night and came away with a 72-63 win over the Blue Demons.

BAD NEWS: Junior forward Liza Karlen didn’t make the trip to Chicago after suffering an injury at some point between playing 33 minutes against UConn on New Year’s Eve and whenever MU hit the road for The Windy City. There have been no updates on Karlen since Wednesday but at the time the athletic department said there was no timetable for her return to action. Generally speaking, that sounds like either A) “We need to run tests to confirm what her injury is” or B) “we know what the injury is and it’s not like she’s only going to miss one game.” Either way, it certainly sounds like MU will be without Karlen and 12.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and team high 1.1 blocks per game for the foreseeable future.

So that raises the question: What is is about Wednesday’s game against DePaul, particularly the offensive explosion, that was repeatable without Karlen in the lineup and what was not? Were the Golden Eagles running a little bit more free on offense because they weren’t running through Karlen in the post at all? Were they playing with a little more intensity and energy because they had to make up for losing Karlen’s 6’2” frame on the interior?

If Karlen is back for Sunday’s game, then what about the DePaul game can carry over with her on the floor? Can MU play more like the team that put up 46 points in the first half on the regular with contributions from Karlen? Do they have to watch out for being the team that scored just eight points in the third quarter no matter whether or not Karlen is in the lineup?

All of these are important questions as Marquette tries to say “won two in a row!” instead of “lost four of the last five” after Sunday afternoon’s game. It is a critical game for the Golden Eagles as any time you play a team in front of you in the NET — Marquette is #39 on Saturday morning, Creighton is #35 — it’s a chance to improve your positioning for the NCAA tournament. On top of that, MU has a reputation to build back up after their three game losing streak. They aren’t bad losses, to be clear, not with Colorado, Villanova, and UConn all in the top 25 of the NET at the moment.... but you’ve got to take advantage of situations in front of you as well.

Stat Watch: Jordan King needs 23 points to tie and 24 points to pass Lori Goerlitz for 27th place on the all time scoring list.

Stat Watch #2: Chloe Marotta is currently tied with Mary Spellacy for the 12th most rebounds in program history and nine away from tying Christina Quaye for the 11th most.

Stat Watch #3: Jordan King is five assists away from tying and six away from passing Baylor head coach Nicki Collen for the eighth most in program history.

Big East Game #7: at #25 Creighton Bluejays (9-5, 3-3 Big East)

Date: Sunday, January 8, 2023
Time: 3pm Central
Location: DJ Sokol Arena, Omaha, Nebraska
Television: CBS Sports Network, with Sloane Martin and Isis Young calling the action
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 13-15 all time against Creighton. The Bluejays won in Omaha last season to snap a four game MU winning streak in the overall series, but the Golden Eagles have won five of the last six and seven of the last 10.

This season was going pretty well for Creighton. They started off the year at #21 in the preseason Associated Press poll, and then they won their first seven games. Along the way, they picked up wins over teams that were ranked #23, #22, and #25 in the country at the time, and two of those were road games, too. That’s pretty good stuff, and that’s why they had risen up as far as #13 in the AP poll.

Game #8 was their first loss of the season, falling 66-62 at St. John’s, and considering the fact that the Red Storm was undefeated until this past Wednesday night, that’s not the worst thing ever. Then the Bluejays lost three straight games after a win over Drake, although they were all explainable losses. #21 Arkansas at home? #2 Stanford in Palo Alto? #8 UConn at home? Yeah, things happen, pick yourself up and move on, even with losses in four of five contests at that point. That’s what Creighton did, securing a 92-82 victory on the road against DePaul on New Year’s Eve.

And then Wednesday night happened, and the Bluejays got thunderstruck — at home no less — by Providence. That was the Friars’ first win in Big East play this season, moving them to 1-4 in the league after a 9-2 non-conference run. Creighton led 24-15 after 10 minutes and was still up seven at halftime before coughing up a 24-11 third quarter to Providence and never getting closer than three points in the final frame. All due respect to PC here.... but that’s Creighton’s worst loss of the season and it’s not close. The way things have gone recently have made this one incredibly important for the Bluejays, which is fun because that means both teams need a win in a big way here.

Whatever did or did not happen against Providence, you can’t say it was Morgan Maly’s fault, nor was it the fault of the Bluejays’ shooting ability. Maly poured in a career best 30 points thanks to a 6-for-10 outing behind the three-point line, and as a team, the Bluejays hit 16 threes. That’s a season best from long range for them, and they hit 50% of their attempts, too. Maly is a 34% three-point shooter this season, so yeah, it was a great night for her, but even if she was a 44% shooter, 60% on ten attempts is still a great night. As a team, Creighton shoots more threes than the average bear, ranking #37 in the country in three-point rate according to Her Hoop Stats. As you’d expect from that stat and head coach Jim Flanery’s history in general, they’re pretty good at hitting those triples, connecting on nearly 35% as a team, which is #57 in the country. You have to do something special on offense in order to out-gun them, and that’s what the Friars did by connecting on 57% of their attempts inside the arc.

Wanna know something weird about the Bluejays? Emma Ronsiek isn’t their leading scorer. That’s Maly at 17.0 per game, although that’s obviously elevated a little bit by her 30 point outing. Lauren Jensen is #2 on the team at 16.5 per game these days, with Ronsiek coming in third at 12.6 a night. Ronsiek doesn’t lead the team in rebounding — that’s Maly again, 6.5 a night — nor in assists, as both Jensen and team leader Molly Mogensen (3.5/game) are ahead of her. If this all keeps up for the rest of the season, it’s going to make for some very interesting voting for the all-conference teams, because Ronsiek was a shoo-in for the preseason all-BE team.