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#19 Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs Xavier

And so we preview what might be the Golden Eagles’ final game as a ranked team for a while.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 Creighton at Xavier Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Somehow, losing to St. John’s on Wednesday in the ugliest manner possible did not affect Marquette women’s basketball’s NET all that much.

The loss shifted MU’s NET ranking from #35 to #37. That’s not great, particularly when there’s not much meat on the non-conference schedule when it comes to an NCAA tournament selection situation, but a two spot bump is exactly what happened after the blowout loss to UConn as well. Heck, beating App State 99-91 cost Marquette more spots in the NET, as they went from #23 to #30. In fact, the damage from the loss to the Red Storm has been mitigated since then, as the vagaries of algorithmic computation have moved the Golden Eagles back to #36 on Friday morning.

In other words: It could have been so much worse.

It feels so much worse, that’s for sure. It’s one thing to lose control of a game in front of a sold out crowd at the XL Center against UConn. That was bad because of how well MU started the game, but if it was a back-and-forth start and then UConn ripped the doors off, well, that happens. It’s another thing to lose that game in that particular way, travel all the way back to Milwaukee, then all the way back to New York, and then boot the ball around the gym for 40 minutes, blow an eight point lead with just under 12 minutes to go, re-blow a four point lead with 2:51 to play, and then, somehow trailing by just one point fail to get anything resembling a good shot after three timeouts in the final 30 seconds as Liza Karlen got blocked in the paint and then also threw up something resembling a prayer from just 13 feet away.

It stinks, big time! If you wanted to see Marquette fire up after their ugly loss to UConn, all you got to see was a different kind of ugly loss, this time to a team that was sitting at 7-7 on the year coming into the game. That somehow made the loss even worse, particularly since it was MU’s second straight loss after starting the 2023-24 campaign with a program record 12 straight wins. It felt like, after the road trip to Illinois State and the home game against App State in particular, that Marquette had Figured Out How To Win When They Needed To Fight For It..... but that just did not happen on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

On Saturday, Marquette starts a run of four very winnable games before they host UConn at the McGuire Center. It would very much be a good idea to get through those games with a 4-0 record, but one game at a time, y’all.

Stat Watch: Jordan King needs four points to tie and five points to pass Christine Kennedy for 10th place on the all-time scoring list.

Stat Watch #2: Jordan King needs four field goals to tie and five to pass Christine Kennedy for 11th place on the all time made field goals chart.

Big East Game #4: vs Xavier Musketeers (1-10, 0-2 Big East)

Date: Saturday, January 6, 2024
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloHoops
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Bluesky Updates: @AnonymousEagle

Marquette is 21-7 all time against Xavier. The series started back in 1985 and was pretty even through the first nine encounters. The Musketeers won three of the first five meetings between the two teams once XU joined the Big East, but the Golden Eagles have now won 14 straight in the series.

I don’t have to pretend that Xavier is good or that this season is going anything close to remotely well for first year head coach Billi Chambers. This is how it is going:

  • They lost each of their first seven games of the season, going 0-3 on the road, 0-3 at home, and 0-1 on a neutral court. The closest margin in regulation was a 64-57 home loss to a Kent State team that is currently 7-4, as they also took a 58-57 overtime road loss to a Miami (OH) team that is currently 2-9.
  • They then dumped their next two games because they didn’t have enough healthy players to participate in the game. One of those games was the day after loss #7, so y’know, okay, things happen, but the second one was five days later back at home in Cincinnati.
  • They lost their eighth game, 69-47, at Cincinnati.
  • They announced 1) a season ending injury to Shelby Calhoun and 2) the addition of volleyball star Delaney Hogan to the roster.
  • They won a game, beating SIU Edwardsville 68-43 at Cintas Center, and the Cougars are now 3-13.
  • They lost their first two Big East games by 21 and 31 points at home against DePaul and at Villanova respectively.

It’s real bad over there.

There are only two notable green (aka Good) numbers on their Her Hoop Stats page. One of them is assist rate, as they rank #53 in the country there. That’s surprisingly great because “shooting the ball” is not one of the things that Xavier is good at, no matter what spot on the court we’re talking about. It’s hard to be not good at shooting the ball but still be top 60 in the country in making sure you get an assist on a bucket.

The other thing to note is three-point attempt rate. For whatever reason, there are only 16 teams in the country who get a higher percentage of their shots from behind the three-point line. I want to be clear about this: I don’t know why Billi Chambers is doing this. Xavier connects on just 28.1% of their attempts. Yes, freshman Aby Shubert is 4-for-9 on the year, but she has just one make since Thanksgiving because she actually doesn’t play that much. Yes, grad student Taylor Smith is 3-for-9 since making her season debut on December 10th against Cincinnati. That’s it for shooters that are at or above the 33.3% efficiency cutoff. Kaysia Woods is attempting 7.4 threes per game and connecting just 32% of the time. She only attempts 9.6 shots per game. Former Marquette recruit Aizhanique Mayo has appeared in three games for Xavier after getting her Marquette-to-Iona-to-Xavier-in-six-months transfer situation settled with the NCAA, and she’s shooting 4-for-13 so far. It just gets worse from there. Just so we’re clear: Even when it works out for them, it does not work out for them. Xavier shot 40.7% from three-point-land against DePaul and trailed by 20 for most of the game and by as many as 30 in the fourth quarter.

Unless Mackayla Scarlett (13.4 ppg) comes back from an injury suffered against Temple on Saturday, Nila Blackford is the scoring leader on the active roster at 10.0 points per gam. She’s also the rebounding leader at 8.7, so Marquette will have to at least put a body on her when the ball is in the air. Tae’lor Purvis leads the Musketeers in assists at 3.0 per game as well as in steals at 1.6 per outing.