Marquette women’s basketball closes out season at DePaul

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Photo by Mike Cianciolo / michael.cianciolo@marquette.edu

Photo by Mike Cianciolo / michael.cianciolo@marquette.edu

After a long and trying season, the Golden Eagles (8-20, 4-13) will travel down Interstate 43 to close out their regular season schedule against the conference-leading DePaul Blue Demons (22-7, 14-3) Sunday.

The Golden Eagles come into this match after splitting their two weekend games for the fourth weekend in a row last week. They managed to defeat the last-place Providence Friars 72-64 before getting demolished by a much better Creighton Blue Jays squad 82-60.

The split all but assures Marquette the eighth spot in the Big East; for the team to fall to ninth or 10th place, it would have to lose to DePaul and either Georgetown or Providence would have to win their remaining two games.

Standout freshman Kenisha Bell had another pair of good performances last weekend. She averaged 12.5 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Even though she did commit six turnovers against Providence, she immediately rectified her errors and emerged from Marquette’s game against Creighton with a zero in the turnover column. Bell was named Big East Freshman of the Week for her exploits.

DePaul, meanwhile, rebounded from its heartbreaking loss to Seton Hall to reel off three consecutive wins and regain first place in the Big East. Two of those three wins came last weekend as the Blue Demons held off Creighton 78-76 and then dissected Providence 103-66.

The Blue Demons have a multitude of offensive weapons, as five different DePaul players average double-digit points. However, the star of the team is undoubtedly Brittany Hrynko. The senior guard sports a herculean 20.4 points per game figure and is shooting an efficient 46.3 percent from the floor. She leads the team in points, assists and steals.

She and the rest of the Blue Demons’ formidable offense will be going up against a Marquette team that ranks 339th in the country in points per game allowed. San Jose State, Air Force, Saint Francis (Penn.) and Sacramento State are the only Division I teams who have given up more points per game than Marquette.

Coach Carolyn Kieger’s first year at the helm of the Golden Eagles has been somewhat of a bumpy ride. Marquette lost its first 10 conference games and came within one game of tying a 29 year-old program record for consecutive losses.

However, the Golden Eagles have played much better basketball en route to a 4-4 record in their last eight games. Marquette also captured its first signature win of the Kieger era two weeks ago by upending a ranked Seton Hall team.

In order for the Golden Eagles to pull another upset, they’re going to have to do a much better job of defending than the 77.3 points per game that they usually allow. It is also imperative that Arlesia Morse gets to the free throw line early and often. Morse is shooting 92.1 percent on free throws for the season, so just about every trip to the line for her results in free points, which is something Marquette can take advantage of. Finally, they need to force DePaul to turn the ball over and convert those miscues into easy shots close to the basket. Another upset is probably a long shot, especially on the road, but Marquette can vastly improve its chances by doing those three things.

Tip-off is at 3 p.m. and the game can be viewed on CBS Sports Network.

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