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Three takeaways: WBB shows off depth vs. Loyola (MD)

Sophomore+Isabelle+Spingola+is+defended+by+Loyola+Maryland%27s+Courtney+Vannoy.
Sophomore Isabelle Spingola is defended by Loyola Maryland's Courtney Vannoy.

Sophomore Isabelle Spingola is defended by Loyola Maryland's Courtney Vannoy.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Sophomore Isabelle Spingola is defended by Loyola Maryland's Courtney Vannoy.

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Final Score: Marquette 83, Loyola (MD) 63

 

Most points: Allazia Blockton (19)

Most rebounds: Erika Davenport (10)

Most assists: Danielle King (7)

 

Davenport pushing the ball

Women’s basketball’s fast break formula has undergone some tweaking. Usually, a big would grab the rebound and shuffle the ball off to a guard, who would then run the floor. Against Loyola, though, forward Erika Davenport would simply take the rebound and dribble the length of the court herself.

“Coach has given us the privilege if we get the rebound to take a couple bust out dribbles, get it up the court so we can get to the rim as fast as we can,” Davenport said.

Davenport, the Golden Eagles’ rebound-generating machine, ran the fast break early and often Sunday afternoon, displaying her improved ball-handling skills.  On one particularly impressive play, Davenport snatched a missed Loyola three-pointer attempt, flew past half-court, connected on a nifty outlet pass with a streaking Amani Wilborn, and earned the easy assist from Wilborn’s layup. It was like a funhouse mirror version of what Marquette’s offense typically looks like, and it adds another gear to how quickly this team can run.

 

Golden Eagles add length early

With the insertion of redshirt freshman Lauren Van Kleunen into the starting lineup, the identity of head coach Carolyn Kieger’s squad is beginning to shift. Sure, they Golden Eagles will always have the zippy, guard-heavy squads that propelled the program to a BIG EAST Championship last year, but there are now supporting pieces around them to round out the lineup.

Near the end of the first quarter, Kieger stitched together a five-woman unit of Wilborn, junior guard Allazia Blockton, sophomore Isabelle Spingola, Van Kleunen, and freshman forward Myriama Smith Traore. The latter two each stand at six-foot-two with tree branches for arms, while the six-foot tall Spingola adds more size around the perimeter than any other guard on the roster.

In effect, the defense can now cover more ground, wall off a couple more inches of passing lanes, and contest shots around the rim.

“Obviously, you want to have length at all positions,” Kieger said. “That’s the goal with all recruiting. Our freshmen, they give us that. They give us length at the guard spots and in the post spots. That really helps us distract vision, and helps our defense get longer and wider just by wingspan alone.”

 

A solidified bench

The Golden Eagles scored 20 points coming off the bench this Sunday. In years past, that would’ve come from Wilborn, the stalwart sixth woman and the team’s only significant bench player. This year, the bench is much deeper.

“We’re going to have a lot more depth this year, from multiple positions, too,” Kieger said. “From the guards, from the post, we’ll have more off the bench now. It’ll help us get each other in shape and it’s going to help us hold ourselves accountable.”

Eleven players saw the court against Loyola and eight of them saw at least 12 minutes of action. The numbers are a touch inflated due a wide scoring margin in the second half, but they certainly indicate a new willingness on Kieger’s part to stretch her roster further than ever before.

 

Next up:

The Golden Eagles head to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge, where they’re slated to play Tennessee and Montana on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

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