Big East women’s notebook, Jan.16

Player of the Week

Ka-Deidre Simmons – Seton Hall – Guard

Simmons, a redshirt junior, came into the season knowing she had to step into a bigger role for the Pirates, and she took the challenge head on. Simmons upped her points per game average by nearly four points this season and put up a career-high 25 points in a win against Villanova. She also leads the team with 88 assists on the season. Seton Hall has had a rough start to conference play, but with the continued success of Simmons, the Pirates should climb in the standings.

Game of the Week

St. John’s at Marquette – Saturday – 4 p.m. CST

When the Red Storm travels to Milwaukee to face the Golden Eagles, it will be an early matchup between teams at the top of the conference. Marquette’s only defeat in conference play so far was a two-point loss at home versus Villanova, while St. John’s only loss this season came by five points on the road to Xavier. Marquette will be lethal in its post attack by giving the ball to its leading scorer Katherine Plouffe, who averages 19.4 points per game. Meanwhile, the Red Storm will put the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford. Both Marquette and St. John’s are looking knock off a threat to their Big East title hopes.

Creighton surging to start Big East play

Creighton’s season started out rough, as the team lost its opener to crosstown rival Drake and limped through nonconference play to a mediocre 6-6 record. But since Big East play started, the Bluejays soared to the top of the standings. Creighton won four of its last five, including home victories against 12-3 Villanova and 12-5 DePaul. The Bluejays should continue their winning streak when they battle 7-9 Xavier at home before traveling to Indianapolis to take on the 7-9 Butler Bulldogs.

Marquette playing much better than expected

While many people believed Marquette would benefit from an easier schedule in the new Big East, very few could have guessed the Golden Eagles would perform this well. Marquette is 12-3 with a 3-1 conference record and sits in second place in the conference. This time last year, the Golden Eagles were 8-7 and 0-2 in Big East play. Led by senior Katherine Plouffe and sophomore Brooklyn Pumroy, Marquette feeds the post to get the gritty points. Marquette will show just how good it is when the team welcomes third place St. John’s to the Al McGuire Center Saturday.

Former Big East members update

When the “Catholic 7” left the now-American Athletic Conference and took the Big East name with it, it also left the top four teams in women’s basketball in the conference.

Last year’s regular season champion Notre Dame (15-0, 3-0) jumped ship to the Atlantic Coast Conference and hasn’t skipped a beat. Fellow ACC counterpart Syracuse (12-4, 1-2) adapted to the new conference well, while Pittsburgh (9-8, 1-2) has had a little more trouble.

Former Big East members are dominating the AAC, as Connecticut (18-0, 5-0), Louisville (16-1, 4-0) and Rutgers (13-3, 4-1) are in first, second and third place, respectively. However, for former members South Florida (8-8, 2-3) and Cincinnati (8-8, 1-4), the conference hasn’t been so kind.

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