WBB begins road trip with tough test against Butler

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Lauren Van Kleunen (42) looks for an opponent to pass to in Marquette's 61-57 loss to Butler Feb. 22, 2019. (Marquette Wire stock photo)

Marquette women’s basketball heads back out on the road Friday, visiting the Butler Bulldogs in the first matchup of the weekend.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a big weekend, taking down the St. John’s Red Storm Friday and Seton Hall Pirates Sunday. 

These victories extended Marquette’s win streak to three games after it suffered setbacks against DePaul and Creighton in the first BIG EAST contests.

Butler presents a tough task for the Golden Eagles, with both squads tied for fourth place in the BIG EAST standings.

The Bulldogs graduated a few important pieces last year, namely forward Tori Schickel and guards Whitney Jennings and Michelle Weaver. Shickel was a four-time BIG EAST honoree and averaged 12.5 points and nine rebounds in the 2018-19 season.

Jennings, a two-time All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention, averaged 15.5 points and over two assists per game a season ago. Weaver was the 2018-19 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, ranking seventh in the NCAA in steals while averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Getting a win at Hinkle Fieldhouse would ensure Megan Duffy’s squad stays in the top half of the league standings, which would be a major feat for a young, inexperienced team.

Fun Facts

  • Last year, Butler finished the season with an overall record of 23-10, 11-7 in BIG EAST play. The Bulldogs were bounced in the BIG EAST Quarterfinals by Creighton.
  • Butler advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last year before losing to the Cincinnati Bearcats to end its season. The Bulldogs were outscored 24-9 in the fourth quarter of that matchup.
  • Marquette has won its last three matchups since suffering back-to-back losses against Creighton and DePaul.
  • MU is 12-3 all-time against the Bulldogs.

A Look Back

  • Butler has an overall record of 11-5, just 3-2 in conference play. Their two losses in conference came to St. John’s and Seton Hall, the preseason two and three seeds in the BIG EAST standings.
  • The Bulldogs suffered a major loss against Georgia earlier this year, taking a 69-36 loss to UGA. Georgia led for the entire matchup, with Butler making just eight field goals on 46 total attempts.
  • The only other losses for Butler this year came to Ball State and then-No. 12 Indiana.
  • Butler’s most recent contest was a one-point win over the Georgetown Hoyas Sunday. Kristen Spolyar was the team’s high scorer in the game with 15 points while Katherine Strong totaled 12 points and eight rebounds.

Key Players

  • Spolyar is the team’s leader, finishing second on the team in scoring a season ago and averaging 18.2 points and over six rebounds per game this year. Spolyar was on the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.
  • Strong is a big part of the team’s post presence, putting up over seven points and four rebounds per game. Strong suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year’s matchup against the Golden Eagles.
  • Genesis Parker and Shae Brey are two other starters for the Bulldogs. Parker is averaging double digits with 11.4 points per game, while Brey helps Strong on the interior by contributing 4.8 rebounds per game in addition to over four points.
  • The Bulldogs have a number of other players who make big impacts, including Oumou Toure and Naira Caceres. Both have played in all 16 games with a number of starts. Toure, a first-year guard, is averaging over seven points and five rebounds per game, while Caceres is averaging six points after serving as an important bench piece a season ago.
  • MU junior guard Selena Lott was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week after dominant performances against Seton Hall and St. John’s. The only returning starter is averaging 16 points, 5.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game while adding 26 steals already on the year.

Keys to the Game:

  • Marquette: Win through the post. If Marquette is able to contain Butler’s paint presence and dominate the glass, the Golden Eagles should walk out with a win. Look for forwards Altia Anderson, Chloe Marotta, Camryn Taylor and Lauren Van Kleunen to have an important role for MU.
  • Butler: Bring the pressure on defense forcing Marquette to turn the ball over. The Golden Eagles are a young team averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, which places them at 253rd in the country. If the Bulldogs can make Marquette turn it over, Butler will win the matchup.

This story was written by Dan Avington. He can be reached at daniel.avington@marquette.edu and on Twitter @danavington.