On Wednesday night, we’re going to get to see something that we haven’t seen all season from Marquette women’s basketball.
We’re going to get to see how they respond to losing a game.
That hasn’t happened yet because, before Sunday afternoon, Marquette hadn’t lost a game yet. They opened up the year 12-0, the best start to a season in program history, easily surpassing the previous record of five straight wins to start the year. After getting clattered by Connecticut on New Year’s Eve, the Golden Eagles now have to merely settle for the best one loss start to the year since the 2006-07 team went 15-1. Settle for now at least, I suppose.
In any case, we’ve seem Marquette respond to a bad start to a game before, bouncing back from a double digit hole on the road against Illinois State. We’ve seen MU deal with a team that just would not stop scoring, as they beat App State in a shootout with both teams getting into the 90s. We’ve even seen Marquette maintain their edge after beating a ranked team twice this season.
But we haven’t seen them respond to a loss. We also haven’t seen the Golden Eagles respond to getting run off the floor, which what happened when UConn closed the first half on a 40-15 run on Sunday. Marquette’s in-game response to that was poor, but at least part of that poor response was the fact that they still had to go out and play the UConn team that was blowing them off the court. They’ve got a different opponent, albeit still on the road here, so that changes the equation. What will head coach Megan Duffy have in her bag of tricks to get her squad back on the right track with five games between now and when they have to face the Huskies again?
Stat Watch: Jordan King needs 15 points to catch and 16 points to pass Christine Kennedy for 10th place on the all-time scoring list.
Stat Watch #2: Jordan King needs eight field goals to catch and nine to pass Christine Kennedy (that’s probably not a coincidence) on the all-time field goals made list.
Big East Game #3: at St. John’s Red Storm (7-7, 1-1 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, January 3, 2023
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Jamaica, New York
Streaming: FloHoops with Maria Marino and Kim Adams calling the action
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Bluesky Updates: @AnonymousEagle
Marquette is 22-11 all time against St. John’s. The Golden Eagles have won two straight after winning in Milwaukee and in the Big East quarterfinals last season, as well as nine of the last 10 meetings and 13 of the last 15, too.
The season didn’t start well for St. John’s. After they dropped a 60-56 decision to Jackson State to take three losses as part of the Discover Puerto Rico Classic, they were 2-5 on the year, and when the NET debuted, that means that they were barely into the campaign and already had two sub-100 losses. Unless there was some kind of massive turnaround for head coach Joe Tartamella, their NCAA chances were effectively scuttled already, just months after winning a First Four game.
Two wins coming out of Puerto Rico were helpful, but a 67-62 loss at Fairfield gave the Red Storm two road losses against teams that would otherwise look like they maybe should have been buy games if you glance at the schedule. Don’t yell at me, Stags fans, I get it, your team’s pretty good right now, I said “if you glance.” In any case, that’s 4-6 through 10 games and a NET ranking of #114..... which actually was improved by playing Fairfield.
St. John’s followed that loss up with three straight wins, including a 51-46 defeat of Villanova in their Big East opener to start off league play 1-0 and standing in first place on Christmas Day. After all of those tribulations, the Johnnies were 7-6 and above .500 as they went into their holiday break..... and then lost their return bout, 67-56, to then-#21 Creighton. It was on the road against the Bluejays, and a lot of Big East teams are going to lose there this season, but that has them sitting at .500 both overall and in the league heading into a home game against a ranked opponent.
The Red Storm have three women who have started every single game for them this season, while the other two starting spots have had some tumult to them. One of the reasons for tumult is Amber Brown, a grad transfer from Pitt, not playing at all since that Jackson State game. Here’s the particularly notable thing about that: She’s not even on the roster any more. That’s weird, huh? She started against Jackson State, she was in the SJU game notes for their next game, and then POOF. The biggest thing that SJU loses without her on the floor is her 6.3 rebounds per game, which is still the second best average on the team.
Marquette isn’t going to have to worry about Amber Brown, but they are going to have to worry about Unique Drake, and they’re going to have to worry about her almost all game long. The 5’7” South Carolinian is averaging nearly 35 minutes of playing time while leading the Red Storm in scoring at just short of 20 points per game. Drake has played more than 38 minutes in both of SJU’s Big East games, and with the Johnnies trotting out a rotation of just seven women without Brown, she’s going to have to keep doing that. Her biggest weapon is St. John’s biggest weapon: Her three-point shooting. Drake gets 6.7 of her 16.6 shot attempts per game behind the arc, and she’s cashing in over 42% of them. That makes her far and away SJU’s most dangerous shooter as no one else is 1) averaging three attempts per game or 2) connecting on better than 33%.
Jillian Archer is the name that Marquette is going to have to control on the glass, as she leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game. Archer gets 2.5 of those on average on the offense end, which is just barely pushing the whole team over into a top 100 rebounding rate on that side of the court according to Her Hoop Stats. She’s a top 400 rebounder on both ends — #224 on defense — and she’s going to play more than 30 minutes unless the Golden Eagles can do something about that.
St. John’s is not going to do much in the way of passing to get a good look, ranking just #214 in the country in assist rate. However, Ber’Nyah Mayo is leading the team in assists at 3.5, so she’s the ballhandler that Marquette has to disrupt the most. She’s also just barely under 10 points per game in terms of scoring average, which is pretty good when you consider the fact that St. John’s plays at the third slowest tempo in the country at just under 63 possessions per game. The Johnnies don’t have the shooting abilities to get into a run-and-gun game with the Golden Eagles, so pushing the pace might be a useful tactic here.