The Marquette women’s basketball team has only one away game in December, and the Golden Eagles won’t need to travel far for it.
Marquette will make the brief trek to Madison tomorrow for its annual rivalry matchup with Wisconsin-Madison in hopes of winning its third straight against the Badgers.
Coming off a tight 51-48 win against Fordham on Saturday, Marquette hopes to crack down defensively against the Badgers. Fordham shot just 28.6 percent from the floor and only mustered 33 rebounds to Marquette’s 55.
“Defensive rebounding has really been a focus this year and really an identity for us,” assistant coach Tyler Summitt said. “Going into the game, it’s not so much about Wisconsin as it is about just Marquette. If we focus on our defense and stick to our principles, we’ll be fine.”
Wisconsin (4-3) has been shaky on the offensive end recently. The Badgers put up 69 points in their win against Alabama Saturday and scored 38 points and 73 points in their two games prior to that.
Freshman guard Brooklyn Pumroy said the Golden Eagles will play with great focus regardless of which Badgers team shows up.
“I feel like if we come out with energy and play with passion the way we’re supposed to be playing, it’ll work itself out,” Pumroy said. “We’ve done everything we can to prepare for the big games like Wisconsin. They’re good this year.”
Marquette will need to watch its turnovers against the Badgers. In their two losses this year, the Golden Eagles have given the ball away a total of 62 times. Junior foward Katherine Plouffe said having solid ball control will stem from the defensive effort.
“Once our defense is going well, if our opponents aren’t getting quality shots, it allows our offense to be so much more controlled and more relaxed,” Plouffe said. “One thing we’ve been talking about is getting our defense to run smoothly throughout the full 40 minutes so we can play relaxed.”
Both teams are playing for state pride. Marquette has claimed three of the last five meetings overall. Summitt said he is proud to be a direct part of the rivalry and realizes the importance of all players being involved.
“It’s great just to look at the history, whether it’s men’s basketball or any other sports,” Summitt said. “It’s an honor to be a part of a rivalry. That’s one of the things that makes sports so much fun and so great not only for the fans, but also for the kids and the coaches.”
Pumroy, from Fairborn, Ohio, wasn’t familiar with the history of the two schools when she first arrived on campus, but she has heard what it means to the students, alumni and basketball fans.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of,” Pumroy said. “It’s such a big deal to everyone.”
Plouffe is playing her third Wisconsin game and will make her second trip to Madison. The forward is anticipating the tense atmosphere the Kohl Center will present.
“Whether we’re playing Big East rivalry opponents or non-conference opponents, it’s always fun, because the crowds are great,” Plouffe said. “When they’re cheering against you, I personally like that. It’s going to be a fun game.”
After Wednesday, Marquette returns to the Al McGuire Center for five straight games, beginning this Saturday against another in-state opponent, Wisconsin-Green Bay.