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#19 Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs Appalachian State

The Golden Eagles wander back off into non-conference action after knocking off Creighton to start Big East play.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 21 New Orleans Bowl - Appalachian State v UAB
This is App State’s mascot. His name is Yosef.
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I think the good news for Marquette women’s basketball is that Sunday afternoon can’t be considered a trap game for them.

If anything, head coach Megan Duffy and her staff might have their team’s full attention now that Finals Week is over, for starters. On top of that, Marquette was a little bit lucky to escape from their trip to Illinois State with a win after falling behind 11-0 to start the game. In between that one a week ago and Sunday afternoon, MU hosted #20 Creighton in the middle of Finals Week to start off Big East play. That one was a great game and Marquette made the big push when it mattered to secure the 76-70 win to sit in first place in the league.

Sunday’s also not Marquette’s only non-conference game before Big East play starts in earnest. This isn’t a little oasis game in between two league contests where human nature can kick in and anyone thinks that they can just coast through this and get ready for [checks schedule] yep, a trip to UConn next up in the Big East. [ASIDE: Whoever decided to start #3 MU off with the #2 and #1 teams in the league is a very mean person and they should go sit in the corner and think about what they have done.] There’s another non-conference game coming up after this one, so there shouldn’t be much of a problem about looking ahead.

We should address the record though. Marquette is 10-0. Marquette has never been 10-0 before. Marquette had never been 6-0 to start a season before they beat Arkansas back on November 25th. With two more games on tap before the Golden Eagles bump into the Huskies out east, there’s a chance to run the program record for wins to start a season to 12-0. I don’t want to say that would be an untouchable record, but there’s been women’s basketball in Milwaukee since 1975 and MU has doubled up the previous record for wins to start a season. It might be untouchable if they get there, but that requires buckling up and making sure they get each of the next two. Heck, the program record for consecutive wins at any point is 14 straight, and that mark was set back in 2006-07. If the Golden Eagles notch the next two wins, whatever future team takes a run at this record to start a season is going to be taking a run at the overall winning streak record.

Stat Watch: Jordan King needs 12 points to pass Katherine Plouffe for 12th place on the all-time scoring list. Liza Karlen needs six points for 900 in her career.

Game #11: vs Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-4)

Date: Sunday, December 17, 2023
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloHoops, with Bob Brainerd on the call
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

This is the first ever meeting between Marquette and Appalachian State.

App’s year started off being picked to finish 12th in the 14 team Sun Belt Conference. They opened up competition with two straight wins and ended up with victories in four of their first five games, including a back-to-back pair on a Thanksgiving trip to Puerto Rico. Y’all can do math, and yes, that means that the Mountaineers are coming in with losses in three of their last four games. All three losses were on the road while the win was over College of Charleston at home in Boone, North Carolina.

They have lost their last two games coming into Sunday. That’s an 80-77 loss at Richmond in overtime where App State went up 65-64 with 2:42 left in regulation, the Spiders tied it with 2:15 to play, no one could get a winner, and the Mountaineers never led in the extra session. Last time out was an 82-78 win just a short trip down the road at Gardner-Webb on Friday night. That game wasn’t as close as it looks, as App was able to throw in seven points in the final 15 seconds because GW turned it over twice.

Emily Carver was ASU’s lone entrant on the preseason all-Sun Belt teams, picking up a Third Team honor. That might not hold thru to the end of the season, as she’s not App State’s leading scorer. That title goes to Faith Alston, who is averaging 16.9 points in just over 36 minutes per night. Carver is right behind her at 15.1 points per game, and at least a little bit of that has to be attributed to Carver’s shooting. Her three-point touch has evaporated through nine games, connecting on less than 29% of her attempts after hitting 34% a year ago and 43% against Sun Belt competition. Carver’s attempt rate is also down, but maybe that’s just a “I know I’m not hitting them, I’ll do something else” decision.

Those struggles behind the arc extend to the entire team. App State is one of the 30 worst three-point shooting teams in the country with only Zada Porter and MaKenzie Drout shooting better than 30%.... but both women are just 4-for-10 on the year in limited roles off the bench. The real problem kicks in where ASU is right about middle of the country in long range attempt rate.... and most of those attempts come from Carver and Alston, who combine to shoot more than 13 three-pointers per game and are a combined 31-for-118 (26%) on the year.

The Mountaineers also don’t do much in the way of scoring off the pass (#290 in the country per Her Hoop Stats), and they’re kind of bad at keeping track of the ball on offense. Nearly 18% of their possessions end in a turnover, which has them just over the line in the bottom third of the country in that regard. One thing that Marquette is going to have to watch out for is their offensive rebounding. Perhaps because they’re not a good shooting team, head coach Angel Elderkin has App State operating as a top 75 offensive rebounding rate team. Carver and sophomore forward Rylan Moffitt are doing most of the work there, averaging 3.0 and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game respectively. Odds are there’s going to be a lot of potential offensive rebounds in this game for App State, so Marquette’s going to have keep working on every possession to limit their chances.