WBB Takeaways: Hiedeman strong in Arizona State upset

Marquette 75, Arizona State 63

Team Leaders

Points: Natisha Hiedeman (23)

Rebounds: Erika Davenport (10)

Assists: Allazia Blockton (5)

Today’s win over No. 18 Arizona State marked the first Golden Eagles victory over a ranked opponent since defeating Seton Hall in February 2015. For head coach Carolyn Kieger, “the process” of betting on young talent is finally paying its dividends.

Here are 3 key takeaways from Marquette’s marquee victory:

Natisha Hiedeman is a real threat

Facing a defense with the size and game plan to shut down the low and high-post point-production of stalwart scorers Allazia Blockton and Erika Davenport, Marquette relied on sophomore Natisha Hiedeman to add some perimeter punch to the offense.

Blockton and Davenport, who had paced the team in scoring with 21.5 and 20.5 points per game so far this season, took a backseat to the 5-foot-8 guard with a shooter’s touch.

Hiedeman’s hot hand approached supernova levels in the first quarter as she knocked down each of her first three attempts from behind the arc. By the start of the final frame, she had already tallied 15 points, three assists, and a steal, before utilizing the game’s remaining 10 minutes to put the finishing touches on her breakout game tapestry.

With their lead diminished to a just a single point early in the period, Hiedeman answered an ASU trey with one of her own, stalling whatever momentum the opponents gained. Then, to seal the game down the stretch, she knocked down one more triple and nabbed a pick-six steal for a coast-to-coast lay-up.

By the end of the game, Hiedeman finished with a beyond-cool line of 23 points, four assists, two boards and a pair of steals, with shooting splits of 5-8 from deep and 9-13 from the field overall.

Size Matters Not

Lack of a front court depth and size is the source of the women’s team’s only real roster flaw. With the team’s tallest player— 6-foot-4 freshman Meghan Mandel— mostly tethered to the bench (she’s only recorded 3 minutes of playing time this season, and never appeared in today’s game), 6-foot-3 Shantelle Valentine remains Marquette’s only rotation piece with real height, though only sees the court for about 15 minutes per contest.

If there was a mismatch ASU could’ve exploited to win the game, it would’ve been here. The Sun Devil’s roster is rich with big bodies, with four key players hovering above 6-foot-1, making them big enough to dominate in the post on offense and control the paint on defense. The ASU offense often trudged deep through the shot-clock to establish solid post-position, though Marquette’s blitzing doubles mired the efficiency of these sets.

The size difference does show itself in the box score, however. ASU won the rebounding battle 32-28, with 17 of those boards coming from the offensive glass. Dig a bit deeper, though, and it’s revealed the team of giants only managed to convert on less than half of their second chance opportunities.

The rebounding tradeoff is a pill worth swallowing, however, with Kieger’s undersized lineup fueling a high-octane run-and-gun offense that led to 17 fast-break points— a number that more than doubles ASU’s marks in the same category.

Defense, defense, defense

Poor defense became a harping point for Marquette last season, with an inexperienced roster and a up-tempo style that both acted as natural ceilings to the team’s performance on the less glorious side of the floor.

So far this year the question of defensive fortitude remained. While a 50-point blowout in which opponent Longwood University was held to just 37 points suggested improvements may have been made, the high-scoring shootout with St. Francis seemed to suggest otherwise.

ASU, who had scored 76 and 82 points in their first and second games, provided the perfect opportunity to prove which way the pendulum swung exactly.

By game’s end, the Sun Devils mustered a below-average 63 points, being held to just 42.2 percent shooting from the field. In the second quarter, the team shot a putrid 4-15 to tally just 10 points within the 10 minute frame.

If Marquette wants to remain undefeated, they’ll need to maintain these defensive principles and continue to improve going forward. Today’s defensive performance was a good start and healthy evidence that the Golden Eagles can do more than just put the ball in the hoop after all.