Gary Parrish from CBS Sports has made a point about college basketball in the past: Don’t lose a game that you’re not supposed to lose right before you’re going to play a game that you’re supposed to lose. That’s how you start a losing streak.
Marquette women’s basketball did the first half last Wednesday night, binning a three game winning streak by giving up a 10-0 run to Villanova across the final 3:50 of the game. Marquette went from up seven to taking a three point loss in that stretch when all they needed to close out a fourth straight win was one stop and one bucket in nearly four minutes of game time. The point of what transpired at The Finn could have have been more obvious than Christina Dalce blocking two straight game tying three-point attempts in the final five seconds. She got a chance because she blocked them out of bounds, sure, but never has there been a more emphatic statement of “get that weak garbage out of here” than Dalce blocking shots behind the arc.
That was the first half, that was “don’t lose a game you’re not supposed to lose.” Marquette wasn’t supposed to lose that game, not after taking the game from a one point lead to a seven point lead in the three previous minutes, not when Villanova looked completely lost and confused while Marquette went up seven. Wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did anyway, and that’s bad.
Why is it bad?
Because now Marquette has to deal with the second part of Parrish’s statement and face #8 UConn. Marquette has one win over UConn in program history. They’re ranked in the top 10 right now. This is a scheduled loss, even at home, and Marquette is staring down the barrel of their second straight two game losing skid because of the Huskies after starting out the year 12-0.
Is it written in stone that MU is going to lose on Tuesday night? No, of course not. They’re going to play the game and everything, and anything could in theory happen. But what we saw in Hartford on New Year’s Eve doesn’t leave us with a lot of confidence that Marquette will figure the Huskies out, and we’re already standing with the bad taste of the Villanova loss in our mouths.
Big East Game #8: vs #8 Connecticut Huskies (16-3, 8-0 Big East)
Date: Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Television: SNY, if you’re in the northeast
Streaming: FoxSports.com/live if you’re not in the northeast, but you’ll need a cable/satellite login.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Bluesky Updates: @AnonymousEagle
Marquette is 1-18 all time against UConn. The Huskies have now won two straight in the series, but MU’s lone win in the series did come in the last visit Connecticut made to the McGuire Center.
A quick round up of things Connecticut has done since beating Marquette by 31 on New Year’s Eve:
- Won by 44 on the road against then-#21 Creighton
- Won by 28 at Georgetown
- Won by 44 at the XL Center against Providence
- Won by 43 at UBS Arena against St. John’s
- Won by 24 at Seton Hall
- Won by 37 at Gampel Pavilion against DePaul
Oh, and Aubrey Griffin blew out her ACL against Creighton. With Griffin out, the Huskies are effectively down to a seven woman rotation.... but as you can see, that hasn’t mattered all that much over the last three weeks. It’s like UConn seems determined to prove that nothing affects them and they don’t want to have any excuses — Azzi Fudd’s season ending injury, Caroline Ducharme can’t get back on the floor, etc. — about their season attached to them.
The shorthand of how UConn beat Marquette last time out is simple: Head coach Geno Auriemma called timeout after MU went up 10-0 right out of the gate and pointed out to his team that they can’t just show up and expect to win. After some back and forth action, the Huskies handed out a 24-2 run to stake themselves to a 14 point lead, and that was that. Well, no, we’ll give UConn credit here, they ripped off a 14-1 run in the third quarter to make their statement emphatic. Congrats to them for doing it, but also #18 at the time Marquette looked lifeless as the Huskies rolled right over them for 20+ straight minutes.
Marquette didn’t have an answer for Paige Bueckers, who went 10-for-16 from the field, including 4-for-6 from long range. Marquette didn’t have an answer for Aaliyah Edwards, who put up 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting and added 12 rebounds and four assists. Nika Muhl didn’t score all that much, but you don’t have to when you’re grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing seven assists. Those are the top three names on the scouting report for UConn, and across the length of 40 minutes, MU didn’t have a clue as to how to derail them from their afternoon.
This is not a complicated preview: That can not happen again if Marquette wants to win this basketball game.