PREVIEW: Women’s basketball looks for first BIG EAST title since 2017

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Photo by Jordan Johnson

Altia Anderson (20) attempts a jumper in Marquette’s upset against DePaul March 1.

CHICAGO — Marquette women’s basketball looks for its first BIG EAST Tournament Championship since 2017, taking on the No. 18 DePaul Blue Demons Monday night in the finals.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a 78-55 win over St. John’s Red Storm Sunday. Marquette’s dominance in the paint and rebounding allowed the Golden Eagles to advance to their fourth straight BIG EAST title game appearance.

Junior guard Selena Lott led the way for Marquette with 18 points, two assists and one steal.

For seniors Isabelle Spingola and Altia Anderson, tonight’s game marks the conclusion of their BIG EAST careers. Following the St. John’s win, Spingola said it will be bittersweet for Anderson and her come Monday night.

“For (Altia) and I, it will be really exciting for us,” Spingola said. “We have gone through a lot over the last four years. … We are just ready to go.”

Spingola will have one last chance to beat DePaul and win a BIG EAST championship in her hometown.

“I have grown a lot as a player,” Spingola said. “Playing against DePaul is a great rivalry for us. … We just need to come ready to play.”

Meanwhile, the Blue Demons are coming off an 83-80 win against Seton Hall Sunday night. Despite shooting a game-low 25% from the field in the fourth quarter, DePaul’s defense stood tall in the final minutes giving them the win.

The Pirates dominated the Blue Demons in the paint and rebounding 52-26 and 43-36, respectfully. However, SHU was unable to overcome giving up 14 3-pointers to DePaul.

Sophomore guard Lexi Held led DePaul with 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior guard Deja Church paced the Blue Demons in rebounding with 11 boards. The Michigan transfer ranks third on the team averaging 5.2 rebounds per game.

On Saturday, Marquette head coach Megan Duffy defeated the longest-tenured coach in the BIG EAST Harry Perretta. Tonight, she will look to defeat the second longest-tenured coach, Doug Bruno.

“When I wholeheartedly with my heart wanted to come to Marquette, I knew the caliber of the coaches that I would be coaching against,” Duffy said. “It is pretty cool for me personally because I was a player still playing against these guys and to now be on the sidelines having a team that I am so honored with is pretty cool.”

Unlike the last two games, Marquette enters championship Monday as the “non-favorite”, but for the Golden Eagles, this is nothing new.

Duffy, the BIG EAST Coach of the Year, said her team would not want it any other way as they have played with an “underdog” mentality all season.

“I think we are going to keep the underdog mentality through the last buzzer that happens this season,” Duffy said. “(The players) like that. They all have a little chip on their shoulder as (do) I.”

Fun Facts

  • It is the first time in the history of the BIG EAST Tournament that the same two teams will face off four straight years in the final.
  • Marquette shot 56% from the field in the win over St. John’s Sunday, marking a program-best field goal shooting percentage for the Golden Eagles in the BIG EAST Tournament.
  • The Golden Eagles enter tonight’s game on a four-game win streak.
  • DePaul leads the BIG EAST in scoring averaging 84.5 points per game this season.
  • MU leads the BIG EAST in offensive and defensive rebounding.
  • The Blue Demons look to become just the second No. 1 seed to win the BIG EAST Tournament since realignment and first since 2014,

A Look Back 

  • Both teams split the regular-season series 1-1.
  • DePaul leads the overall series 24-14.
  • The Golden Eagles and Blue Demons have met in the BIG EAST Tournament twelve times. Both teams are 6-6 in those matchups.
  • The Blue Demons have won the last two matchups against the Golden Eagles in the title game.

Key Players 

  • Held is the third-highest scorer for DePaul averaging 15.8 points per game. The Burlington, Kentucky native, has 19.3 points in the last three games for the Blue Demons.
  • Church brings an explosiveness presence to the floor for DePaul. She is averaging 10.8 points per game and leads the team in blocks with 16.
  • Chante Stonewall, the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, is a steady presence under the basket as she averages 5.9 rebounds per game this season. She also is tied for second in the BIG EAST in steals averaging 2.2 per game.
  • Lott leads the Golden Eagles with 15.0 points per game. The Troy, New York native is second in the BIG EAST in assists averaging 5.8 per game. MU is 14-2 this season when Lott makes five or more assists.
  • Redshirt junior forward Lauren Van Kleunen continues to be a big presence under the basket and in the post for the Golden Eagles. The Mason, Ohio native is averaging 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in the last four games.
  • Spingola leads the Golden Eagles and is fourth in the BIG EAST with 69 made 3-pointers. MU is 8-2 this season when Spingola hits three or more 3-pointers.

Keys to the Game

  • Marquette: Eliminate “DePaul Ball.” The Blue Demons are averaging 9.8 threes per game this season and have made 31 threes in their two games of the BIG EAST Tournament.
  • DePaul: Win through the press. In the two games against Marquette this season, the Golden Eagles have turned over the ball 50 times.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.