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RV Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs St. John’s

Oh, yeah, and we’ll recap the narrow win over Providence, too

NCAA Basketball: Merrimack at St. John
It’s not that the lonely picture in the Garden isn’t funny any more, it’s just that this is so much better.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, remember Wednesday?

That was a fun day. While the Marquette men’s basketball team was busy battling back to knock off #16 Xavier at Fiserv Forum, the Marquette women’s basketball team was out east squaring off against Providence in their first game since defeating #4 Connecticut at the McGuire Center.

Parts of that game went very well for the Golden Eagles, and parts did not, but Marquette figured out a way to leave Alumni Hall with a 52-51 victory over the Friars. Of course, very specifically, the definition of “figured out” is Jordan King hit a three-pointer with less than 20 seconds left in the game, but we need to deal with how we got there first.

We’re going to keep this relatively quick, because there’s not much to say and also we’ve got a Saturday game to preview here, too. FACTS ONLY: Marquette led this game 6-0 after five minutes had been played and held a 13-4 lead after eight minutes. The Golden Eagles’ offense was off and running to start this game, and that kept right on going for the first three quarters. MU shot at least 50% in each of the first three quarters while holding Providence under 31% in the first two and under 50% in the third.

That nine point lead stood up at the end of the first quarter, just in the form of 15-6 thanks to six points from Chloe Marotta. The Friars cashed a pair of three-pointers for the first two buckets of the second quarter to slash that margin, but the lead was back to nine with 3:43 to play in the period thanks to a bucket from Liza Karlen. A 6-0 Marotta-only burst in the final 70 seconds of the half pushed Marquette’s advantage to 13 at the break, 31-18. Marotta scored the first two buckets of the second half and Karlen tacked on another one for a 12-0 Marquette run bridging the intermission, and after PC broke it up, Marotta added an and-1. Marquette 40, Providence 20, 7:24 left in the third.

This was the high water mark for Marquette in the game. Providence closed the quarter on a 17-6 run, and Marquette only got to six because of three free throws by Marotta in the final two minutes, and two of those were in the final 30 seconds. It was Not Good, but also the Golden Eagles were up nine heading to the fourth.

Jordan King made it a nine point game, 48-39, with 8:48 to play, and then the wheels just disappeared on Marquette. They would shoot just 15% from the field across the final 10 minutes, with King providing MU’s only two field goals and all six of their points. The Friars cut what used to be a 20 point lead down to just two with 4:43 to go, but their offense sputtered because MU forced a couple of turnovers. King drained a freebie with 2:25 to go as the Golden Eagles clung to a three point advantage.

The game was officially up for grabs with 44 seconds to go when Kylee Sheppard hit a three for the home team, putting Providence out in front for the first time in the entire game, 51-49. Marquette had time to figure out an answer, and they needed a timeout to advance the ball and another timeout from head coach Megan Duffy halfway through the shot clock. Finally, Rose Nkumu made that awkward pass to King in the corner for MU’s second and final field goal of the quarter.

Even then, it was not over, as Providence had 14 seconds to work with after a timeout to advance the ball. Karlen provided MU’s foul to give, Sheppard flung a prayer of a floater at the rim, Grace Efosa’s attempt at a putback hit the front of the rim, and Marquette escaped with the win.

More importantly, they reinforced their win over Connecticut by not lighting it on fire with a loss after leading by 20. Now, that didn’t help Marquette much by way of the NET, and ESPN’s Charlie Creme didn’t exactly think it helped MU either. Perhaps it would have made a difference if that game had counted as a Quadrant 2 win for the Golden Eagles instead of the “well, you beat a sub-100 team so whatever” win that the NCAA looks at it as. It’s not, so Marquette remains hovering much too close to the NCAA tournament cutline for anyone’s tastes.

The good news is that MU’s next two games are home contests against teams in the NCAA tournament conversation, so the Golden Eagles will have a chance to make their own luck.

Stat Watch: Jordan King has passed Penn State head coach Carolyn Kieger for 21nd place on Marquette’s all-time scoring list. King is one point away from tying and two from passing Tammy Shain to move into the top 20 all time, and she’s only 20 points away from catching MU legend Kathy Andrykowski.

Stat Watch #2: We could see two notable Marquette scoring items on Saturday, because Chloe Marotta is now 12 points away from 1,000 in her career and thus 14 away from catching Kerri Christianson for 32nd place all time.

Stat Watch #3: Chloe Marotta has passed Lisa Oldenburg for the 8th most rebounds in Marquette history. Marotta sits 93 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, but she does still need 51 more to get there.

Stat Watch #4: Jordan King has passed Danielle King for 7th place on the all-time Marquette assists list. King needs 10 assists to catch Natisha Hiedeman for 6th place, so we’re probably going to have to wait til next game for that one.

Stat Watch #5: Chloe Marotta needs eight assists to hit 300 for her career, although she’s still 48 away from Marquette’s top 15.

Big East Game #17: vs St. John’s Red Storm (19-6, 10-6 Big East)

Date: Saturday, February 18, 2023
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloSports, with Peter Ferreri and Michelle Griffin-Wenzel calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 20-11 all time against St. John’s. When the Johnnies snagged the 66-61 win in Queens earlier this season, it snapped a seven game winning streak by Marquette in the series and gave St. John’s their first win over Marquette since 2019. However, MU has won five straight meetings in Milwaukee dating back to 2018, and the Golden Eagles have still won 11 of the last 13 encounters overall.

While Marquette is keeping themselves in the NCAA tournament conversation, St. John’s is doing the other thing. The Red Storm have lost three of their last five games: Home to Seton Hall and #14 Villanova, and on the road against Creighton. None of those games were particularly close, as the Red Storm lost by 10 to the Pirates and by 16 in both of the other two. That’s bad news for a team that was once 13-0 on the year and 4-0 in Big East play and ranked in the AP poll.... but just 6-6 overall and in the league since. St. John’s hit #45 in the NET after that start to the year, but they’ve been mostly knocked back into the 50s since then, and the only thing keeping them afloat for an NCAA berth right now — ESPN has them as First Four Out and falling as of Friday morning — is a 66-62 win over Creighton and a 66-61 win over.... oh, look at this, Marquette.

So yeah, another win over Marquette, particularly on the road this time around, would do the Johnnies a whole bunch of good relative to the bubble.... although the Big East office probably doesn’t care for the idea of one league team benefitting at the expense of another.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, St. John’s controlled most of the action for the first three quarters. The Red Storm led by as many as 11, with that margin coming in the third quarter, but a Chloe Marotta bucket midway through the fourth put Marquette up by one. A toss up game at that point for sure, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t bring it home, immediately giving up an 8-0 run across the next four minutes, and the Johnnies were up seven with a minute to go, and that was that. Marquette got big outings from Jordan King (27/6/4, two steals) and Chloe Marotta (24/12/1 and a steal), but that’s about it. This game did happen while Liza Karlen was out due to her oral surgery, so we’ll see if her return to the lineup impacts the contest.

The Golden Eagles couldn’t slow down Jayla Everett or Kadaja Bailey last time around, as they each went for 18 points and combined to shoot 12-for-22 from the field. The Red Storm also got 17 points off the bench from Danielle Patterson, and considering that the 6’2” forward only averages a bit under seven a night, that’s a real problem. This is very much in the category of “Maybe having the 6’2” Karlen back out there will fix this,” but the general point of Marquette can’t allow the Johnnies to shoot 52% for the game and over 60% in the second half again no matter what stands, no matter who’s on the floor.

The real bummer about the entire outing is that Marquette crushed St. John’s on the glass. The Golden Eagles dominated both ends, grabbing up 19 of their own misses for a 46% rate. When it came time to end a St. John’s possession, MU was elite there, keeping them to just two second chances in the entire game, just 8.3%. It seems unlikely that Marquette will be able to excel to this degree again, so they will have to balance that out with forcing the Johnnies into bad shots more often just to stop the shots from going down in the first place.