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RV Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs RV Creighton

The Golden Eagles host the Bluejays at the McGuire Center for our second instance of bird-on-bird violence in as many days.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Creighton at Connecticut
Can the Golden Eagles slow down Emma Ronsiek and the Bluejays?
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette women’s basketball has been doing themselves a lot of favors lately.

After a stretch in late December and early January where the Golden Eagles repeatedly could not get out of the starting gate and lost four of five games, Megan Duffy and her team have hit a hot streak as of late. Marquette has now won seven of their last eight games, including beating UConn for the first time in program history back on February 8th. All of this winning has propelled the Golden Eagles further and further into a safe spot relative to the NCAA tournament. As of Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Charlie Creme lists Marquette as the last team in the field that doesn’t have to play in a First Four game and places them as a #11 seed in the bracket.

The streak that the Golden Eagles are on has moved them into fourth place in the Big East, which is good. With three games left to play, they’re not clear from finishing sixth yet so they need to keep it up to avoid putting themselves at risk in that 6/11 first round game in the Big East tournament. As luck would have it, MU gets a chance to play the team one game ahead of them in the standings on Wednesday night. If Marquette can pull off the home win against another team earning votes in the Associated Press poll this week, they will own the tiebreaker after a season split with Creighton..... as long as Connecticut closes the door on winning the regular season title. Marquette can’t do better than the #3 seed at this point, and that possibility is going to pretty much be decided on Wednesday night.

One thing to keep an eye on tonight is how Liza Karlen impacts the game. She missed the first outing against Creighton, and as we’ll get to in a second, that one went poorly pretty much instantly. Marquette did not rebound the ball as well as Megan Duffy would generally speaking like them to in that one, and obviously having Karlen’s size back in the lineup goes a long way towards grabbing some rebounds. The Golden Eagles are going to have to do a lot more than just rebound though, so pay attention to what Karlen can do to ahem be the difference in Milwaukee.

Stat Watch: Jordan King has passed Tammy Shain and Kathy Andrykowski for 20th place on Marquette’s all-time scoring list. King is 19 points away from tying and 20 from passing Heidi Ach for 19th place.

Stat Watch #2: On Saturday, Chloe Marotta became Marquette’s 33rd career 1,000 point scorer. She is now tied with Kerri Christianson for 32nd place all time on the all time scoring list. I don’t think she’ll catch Kiesha Oliver on Wednesday, as she needs 59 points to do that.

Stat Watch #3: Chloe Marotta has passed Lisa Oldenburg for the 8th most rebounds in Marquette history. Marotta sits 81 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 39 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 four assists to catch and five to pass Natisha Hiedeman for 6th place, so that’s on the table for Wednesday night.

Stat Watch #5: Chloe Marotta needs four assists to hit 300 for her career, although she’s still 44 away from Marquette’s top 15.

Big East Game #18: vs RV Creighton Bluejays (19-7, 13-5 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloSports, with Bob Brainerd, Meghan McKeown, and Kacy Standohar calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 13-16 all time against Creighton. The Bluejays won in Omaha earlier this season to give them two straight wins in the overall series, but the Golden Eagles have won five of the last seven and seven of the last 11.

That meeting earlier this season was, in a word, not fun. The Golden Eagles were down 7-0 out of the gate and 20-6 at the end of the first quarter on their way to a 68-42 loss in Omaha. The then-#25 ranked Bluejays shot nearly 54% from the field in that one and went 6-for-15 (40%) from beyond the arc through the first three quarters of the game. MU couldn’t get anything to fall for most of the game, and even when shooting 54% in the fourth quarter, they still got outscored 19-15.

That game dropped Marquette to 10-6 overall and 3-4 in Big East play, so it was clearly a rough patch for the Golden Eagles. However, the two teams have been on roughly the same trajectory since then. Marquette is 8-2 since falling in Omaha, only tasting defeat on the road against St. John’s and Villanova along the way. Creighton has gone 9-2 since that day in early January, losing only at home to Villanova and on the road against UConn. The Villanova loss was lopsided, but that was revenge for CU’s lopsided win at the Finn earlier in the year, while the UConn loss was extremely close and the Huskies were kind of lucky to figure out out to win that one at Gampel Pavilion.

This isn’t a complicated game to figure out. Can Marquette’s defense — #26 in points per 100 possessions according to Her Hoop Stats — slow down Creighton’s offense — #19 per HHS — long enough or at least enough times to give the MU offense a chance to shine against Creighton’s defense? It’s very funny that these two teams are mirror images as Her Hoop Stats has MU’s offense and CU’s defense out north of #125 in the country, but their opposite numbers are amongst the elite units in the country. If the Golden Eagles can defend the Bluejays the way that they defended UConn and St. John’s in their two recent wins, that would seem to be a easy ticket to victory.... but if it was that easy to do, Marquette would have just done it in Omaha earlier this season.

The Bluejays are not going to play fast, but they are going to try to shoot a million three-pointers because they make a metric ton of them. That’s just smart coaching, because if you’re #16 in the country at something, you lean into it. Creighton’s a straight up bad offensive rebounding team though, so if MU can just keep the Bluejays off balance when they might be trying to load up for three, that’s the move. Most of the triples are going to come from Emma Ronsiek (40% on 3.9 attempts/game) and Morgan Maly (39% on 6.5 attempts/game) although Molly Mogensen (34%, 3.2/game) and Lauren Jensen (33%, 6.2/game) aren’t exactly shy about letting it fly either. If MU can limit their impact from outside the arc, that should pave the way for a Marquette victory in a big spot this season.