PREVIEW: Women’s basketball resumes play at Seton Hall following COVID shutdown

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Selena Lott (left) and Claire Kaifes (right) exchange a high-five during Marquette’s 66-62 win over St. John’s on Dec. 16 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics. )

30 days. 21 hours. 6 minutes.

That is exactly how long it will be since the last time Marquette women’s basketball team has played come Friday at 12 p.m. CST when the ball is tossed up in the air at center court for tip-off since at Walsh Gymnasium.

After completing a 14-day quarantine period, following a positive COVID-19 test within the program, the Golden Eagles will look to extend their five game winning streak on the season against Seton Hall.

Marquette (6-1, 3-0 BIG EAST) is coming off a 69-56 win back on Dec. 22. MU shot 56% from the field against the Musketeers, their best single game field goal shooting percentage of the season.

Senior guard Selena Lott led the way for Marquette with 13 points, shooting 5-for-7, two rebounds and three assists. In addition to Lott, seven other Golden Eagles scored five or more points in the contest.

Meanwhile, Seton Hall (4-2, 2-2 BIG EAST) is coming off a 79-64 win over Butler on Monday. It was a used a 26-3 run spanning across 8:33 of the second half that pushed the Pirates to the victory.

Graduate student transfer Andra Espinoza-Hunter led the way for SHU with 23 points, shooting 7-for-13, while also collecting three rebounds and two steals in the contest.

Marquette head coach Megan Duffy told the Marquette Wire during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday, that she will rely on senior leadership from Lauren Van Kleunen and Lott to help keep the team’s momentum built prior to their layoff.

“You absolutely have to rely on your seniors and upperclassman and use their experience out there on the the court,” Duffy said. “It’s definitely going to be more of a challenge for the younger players as we move into the heart of conference play. It’s about getting our offense back going and getting our legs back on defense, staying in shape and and then hopefully the positive things will come come if we have those things moving in the right direction.”

Duffy mentioned with the limited amount of practice, due to the layoff, the message that her coaching staff and her have been sending to the Golden Eagles deals with mental toughness.

“I told them as we get back into practice and having a layoff, you’re not maybe physically going to feel your best or in the best shape you can be,” Duffy said. “But we have to have a resiliency and a mental toughness of staying engaged with the game plan and fighting for each other. We fought all year for each other. If we have some up and down moments in the game, we have to steady ourselves and just stay locked in for that for that 40 minutes.”

Junior guard Chloe Marotta mentioned in order for Marquette to pull out a victory on the road, they will have to create sound defense.

“They’re very fast in transition so that’s a big emphasis,” Marotta said. “Stopping the ball and we say, ‘build a wall’ so stopping those drives into the lane. They’re also a great shooting team, so keeping our hands high and don’t let them get those three’s.”

Fun Facts

  • Under Duffy, MU is 5-0 all-time and 2-0 this season in games decided by less than five points.
  • MU is 4-0 on the road this season with wins against Belmont, Cincinnati, North Dakota and Xavier. 
  • Senior guard Selena Lott is 70 points away from 1,000 points in the Blue and Gold.
  • The Golden Eagles are 22-1 under Duffy when leading at halftime and 13-1 when they turn the ball over fewer times than their opponent.
  • Through her first 39 games at the helm of the Golden Eagles, Duffy holds the best coaching record in program history at 30-9.

A Look-Back

  • MU leads the series with a record of 16-8.
  • In the most recent matchup against these two programs, the Pirates defeated the Golden Eagles 72-62. It was one of MU’s five conference losses last season.

Key Players: 

  • Lott leads the Golden Eagles and is sixth in the BIG EAST in scoring with 17.1 points per game. The Troy, New York native is second in the BIG EAST in free-throw percentage at 92.3 %. Dating back to last season, MU is 15-4 when Lott collects five or more assists.
  • Jordan King continues to have a strong start to her sophomore year averaging 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season. The Rockton, Illinois native’s 4.1 assists per game is tied for third in the BIG EAST.
  • 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 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the last four games. In addition, she has scored in double figures six-of-seven games this season.
  • Lauren Park Lane is second in the BIG EAST and leads SHU in scoring with 20.0 points per game. The Wilmington, Delaware, native has scored in double-figures in nine straight games dating back to last season.
  • Mya Jackson is a threat from beyond the arc for the Pirates. The sophomore out of Ohio is 51% from the 3-point line and leads the BIG EAST with 2.9 3-point field goals per game this season.
  • Desiree Elmore provides a great presence underneath the basket for the Pirates. The Preseason All-BIG EAST Honoree is averaging 8.4 rebounds this season.

Keys to the Game 

  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles will have to eliminate the 3-point play as Seton Hall ranks third in the BIG EAST in 3-point field goal percentage at 34%. The Pirates have the second most 3-point field goals made behind DePaul with 62 made three-pointers through seven games.
  • Seton Hall: Bring on the press defense as MU has struggled with it so far this season. The Golden Eagles are averaging 17.9 turnovers per game this season.

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