What’s the best thing you can do after you win a game that marks not just a historical note for your program but is worth of national news?
Win your next game, of course.
Last Wednesday, Marquette women’s basketball did something that the program had never done before: Defeat UConn. 16 tries, dating back to 2006, no wins for the Golden Eagles. That changed as Marquette got 19 points from Chloe Marotta and 18 points from Jordan King while limiting the Huskies to 40% shooting for the game and just 52 points. The win was worthy of national attention not just because Connecticut was ranked #4 in the country at the time, but because it was the first time since March of 1993 that UConn had lost back-to-back games, and the first time since February 1993 that UConn had lost consecutive regular season games.
In short: A very big deal.
But the season isn’t over. Marquette has five regular season games left to go, and at 16-8 over all and 9-6 in Big East action, there’s a lot on the line over the next couple of weeks for the Golden Eagles. MU is very much in a battle for Big East tournament seeding with 10-5 St. John’s and 9-7 Seton Hall, and maybe even third place Creighton, who is currently 12-4. Marquette is currently fifth in the standings, and remember: 6th place means playing whoever finishes last in the first round of the conference tournament.
It would be very good for Marquette to not have to play in that first round game, particularly against Xavier, the most likely occupant of last place by season’s end, as they are a sub-200 NET team. The Golden Eagles are, even with two wins against the top 25 of the NET, very much not a gimme to make the NCAA tournament. NCAA.com did a bracket projection following the selection committee releasing the top 16 seed preview last week, and even after defeating Connecticut, Autumn Johnson inserted the Golden Eagles as a #11 seed. That’s cleanly in the field and avoiding the First Four, which is where ESPN.com’s Charlie Creme had the Golden Eagles in his bracket projection last Friday. Through Monday’s games, Marquette is #40 in the NET, seven spots better than they were before beating the Huskies, but also one spot worse than they were immediately afterwards.
In short: There is work left to be done.
That work starts on Wednesday night in Rhode Island.
Stat Watch: Jordan King has passed Courtney Romeiser for 22nd place on Marquette’s all-time scoring list. King is four points away from tying and five away from passing Penn State head coach Carolyn Kieger for 21st place, and she’s 17 points away from passing Tammy Shain for 20th.
Stat Watch #2: We’ve still got a bit to go here, but Chloe Marotta is now 38 points away from 1,000 in her career.
Stat Watch #3: Chloe Marotta has passed Lisa Oldenburg for the 8th most rebounds in Marquette history. Marotta sits 102 rebounds away from Pam Suplicki in 7th place, which effectively means that she’s stuck in eighth unless 1) She starts grabbing 15 rebounds a game or 2) Marquette goes on a very deep postseason run. The possibility of becoming the 7th woman with 900 career rebounds is very much on the table.
Stat Watch #4: Jordan King has passed Danielle King for 7th place on the all-time Marquette assists list. King needs 12 assists to catch Natisha Hiedeman for 6th place, so we’re probably going to have to wait for the weekend for that one.
Stat Watch #5: Chloe Marotta needs nine assists to hit 300 for her career, although she’s still 49 away from Marquette’s top 15.
Big East Game #16: at Providence Friars (13-13, 4-11 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Alumni Hall, Providence, Rhode Island
Streaming: FloSports, with Mike Mancuso and Pam Roecker calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 23-6 all time against Providence. After winning at the McGuire Center earlier this season, the Golden Eagles have now won 12 straight games against the Friars. Just think, this series was once only 11-6 favoring MU.
That win at the McGuire Center came back on January 14th, and it went 80-57 in favor of the Golden Eagles. That game was not a very good example of what Marquette will look like in this game, as the Golden Eagles were without Liza Karlen as she missed time due to oral surgery and Chloe Marotta was limited to just 13 minutes of action due to foul trouble. However, the Golden Eagles lit up the Friars for 26 points in the second quarter to stake themselves to a 13 point lead at the break, and then used a 15-5 run to close out the third quarter to fend off a PC push and lead by 15 with 10 minutes left to play. Why did all of this happen? Because Jordan King scored a career best 31 points on 12-for-23 shooting, plus she chipped in five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. MU also got a nice game from freshman Emily La Chapell, who notched her career best with 13 points in that game, and that was much needed with Karlen out and Marotta otherwise limited.
As for Providence, their season has continued to spiral since their visit to Milwaukee. They are just 2-5 since January 14th, and their wins came by way of road trips to Butler and Xavier..... and then they lost, 63-62, at home to the 8-17 Bulldogs in their most recent game to bring them to three straight losses headed into Wednesday night. Providence and Butler are very much in a duel for Big East tournament seeding at this point of the campaign with the Friars up one win and two losses on the Bulldogs who are 3-13 in the league. It’s really a three team competition, as Georgetown is just a half game in front of Providence at 5-11. Whichever squads end up at the top of this three team competition will end up playing each other in the first round of the conference tournament, as that will make up the middle two spots in the first day tripleheader.
Providence had three double digit scorers in the first meeting this season, and they’re pretty much the exact three you could have expected: Janai Crooms, Olivia Olsen, and Kylee Sheppard. Crooms and Olsen are PC’s only two players averaging north of 10 points a game this season at 11.5 and 11.0 a night respectively, while Sheppard is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.0 per night. Crooms and Olsen are also the top two rebounders on the team (7.1 and 6.5) and Crooms leads the team in assists at 3.8 per game. Crooms had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals against the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee, so you could pretty fairly say that Marquette didn’t accomplish the scouting report item of “slow down Providence’s top player.”
As could be the case for most of Marquette’s games, this contest could be decided when the Golden Eagles miss a shot. In the first meeting, MU didn’t do that a lot after the first quarter ended, connecting on 55% of their shots in the final 30 minutes and shooting 7-for-17 (41%) from long range in the same stretch. That’s not typical for the Golden Eagles, who rank just #194 in the country in effective field goal percentage according to HerHoopStats.com. They are, however, a very good offensive rebounding team, and a lot of their offensive efficiency this season has come by way of making use of second chances. With that said, Providence is one of the 10 best defensive rebounding teams in the country. If Marquette is not hitting shots — and history tells us that they’re more likely to lean that direction than what happened in Milwaukee — then they are going to be hard pressed to get those second chances that head coach Megan Duffy finds so important.