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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at DePaul

Kind of a make or break game for the Golden Eagles against their I-94 rivals.

Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t have any intention of watching this game.

Item #1: The Marquette men’s basketball team is tipping off on the road against Butler at 5:30pm Central time on Tuesday evening. Best case scenario: That game ends at 7:30pm, but 7:45-ish is probably more likely.

Item #2: That game is likely to be reasonably competitive.

Item #3: The Marquette women’s basketball game starts at 7pm Central time, and so the first half or so will be going up against the last 10 minutes of the reasonably competitive men’s game.

Item #4: Marquette beat DePaul 78-47 in Milwaukee earlier this season. They led 24-9 at the end of the first quarter and 38-18 at halftime.

Item #5: If my math is mathing, halftime of this game will be right about when it’s time to start writing the men’s game recap.

Item #6: In theory, the women’s team should be handling business against the Blue Demons and I don’t need to watch it.

Item #7: However, the last seven women’s games — since they smashed DePaul, as luck would have it — have been deeply not fun on multiple levels and in multiple different ways. Watching this team bumble their way to a 6-6 record in the last 12 games after playing their way into the AP top 25 this season has, quite honestly, not been a good use of anyone’s time. If Tuesday night goes in the same direction as the last seven have gone..... well, why would I want to subject myself to a negative emotion on purpose like that?

After Tuesday night, Marquette will be off for a week before embarking on the final four games of the regular season. At a glance, all five of these final games should be winnable contests for the Golden Eagles, even with that .500 mark in the last 12 and a highly questionable track record in the last seven. I make this point to say this: Marquette’s NCAA tournament hopes are kind of pinned to not screwing up the final five games of the season. Step #1 on that plan? Doing the work in Chicago.

Big East Game #14: at DePaul Blue Demons (12-14, 4-9 Big East)

Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Streaming: FloSports with Peter Ferreri and Kenny McReynolds calling the action
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 36-49 all time against DePaul. After winning easily in Milwaukee earlier this season, the Golden Eagles have won four straight in the series and six of the last seven meetings.

I can not say that things have gotten worse for DePaul since Marquette last played the Blue Demons on January 13th. Over the last month, DePaul has done exactly what they had been doing up through January 13th: Beating teams worse than them in the NET, and losing to teams that are better than them. That has resulted in a 3-5 record in their last eight games, but there’s no unexpected result in either direction in any of the eight. DePaul even corrected one of their outside the box results from the first part of the season by beating #118 Providence in Chicago on February 7th. DePaul comes in to Tuesday night off of an 88-59 loss on the road against then-#21 Creighton, and that’s just a “yep, that’s what happens to DePaul this year” kind of result.

In the first meeting between these two, Marquette did exactly what they needed to do to disrupt the DePaul offense. The Blue Demons have two double digit scorers in Anaya Peoples (18.0 points per game) and Jorie Allen (10.8 ppg). MU’s defense put them on the struggle bus and made them combine for 5-for-23 shooting from the field. Neither woman has any business shooting three-pointers, so holding them to just two missed attempts from Peoples isn’t notable other than it just goes into the pile of “things were not going well for the Blue Demons in Milwaukee.” Making that 5-for-21 shooting happen again has to be on the top of the scouting report for the Golden Eagles in the second meeting.

Making life difficult for Peoples will go a long way towards breaking up DePaul’s comfort levels, as she’s taking nearly twice as many shots on average as anyone else. If the Blue Demons keep going to her and MU keeps forcing her into bad attempts, that’s great news. If DePaul tries to go in a different direction to avoid the problems that MU is giving Peoples, then that runs the risk of leaning on someone who’s not really prepared to get leaned on. Shakara McCline had a surprising 13 points against Marquette in the first game — she averaged just 9.3 minutes and 4.9 points per game — but she had to shoot 5-for-13 to do it.

As is somewhat tradition for a Doug Bruno coached team, DePaul tends to want to play a little fast and shoot a lot of three pointers. They’re not as hardcore into either one of those things as Bruno has gone in the past, but that might be because DePaul’s not that good at shooting. Michelle Sidor and Kate Clarke are the only true long range threats on the roster, and yeah, it is probably good that they’re firing off nearly five attempts per game. But Marquette held them to just three total attempts in the first meeting, all from Clarke, and all misses. If everyone else is going according to how their averages on the season have gone, Marquette should be mostly comfortable with everyone else on the roster shooting it. Closing down four different players, all of whom started against the Golden Eagles last time, is not an easy thing to do. Odds are that something is going to leak out..... but MU figured out how to do it last time, and in theory, that game plan should work just as well a second time.