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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

McLaughlin picking up defensive identity with Golden Eagles

Photo by Collin Nawrocki
Karissa McLaughlin (12) brings up the ball in Marquette women’s basketball’s 72-58 loss to No. 8 UConn Feb. 13.

After playing over 100 games at Purdue University, graduate student guard Karissa McLaughlin has been able to find her footing at Marquette.

However, McLaughlin said she’s doing something more than she ever has and it’s not on the offensive side of the ball.

“Coach (Megan) Duffy (and I), we laugh about it all the time, I’m like ‘Coach Duffy this is the most defense I’ve ever played in my entire life,'” McLaughlin said. “I mean that’s what the Marquette way is, is playing defense and the offense will come.”

With an ever-growing responsibility on defense, sophomore guard Rose Nkumu said she has found McLaughlin getting better in that area of her game.

“For Karissa especially, she’s sometimes tasked to guard one of the better players on the other team or a better scorer,” Nkumu said. “It’s been awesome watching her progress of just learning different styles of play and learning how to guard different players.”

While McLaughlin may have picked up something new at Marquette, she’s continued to do what leads to her name being at or near the top of opponents’ scouting reports.

Through 24 games this season McLaughlin has accounted for 74.1% of Marquette’s made 3-pointers while second the BIG EAST in 3-point percentage at a clip of 43.2% which is also good for 17th in the country.

McLaughlin’s highest 3-point shooting percentage in a season at Purdue was when she shot 37.9% from deep as a first-year while also leading the team in 3-pointers with 75 whereas this year she has 60 through 24 games.

To go along with that, McLaughlin is fourth in the conference for triples per game with an average of 2.5 per game, a rate that ranks 42nd nationally.

“That’s exactly what we expected,” Marquette assistant coach Kelly Komara said. “She can put the ball in the hole, no doubt. But it’s something that when she does it at such a high clip and the crowd’s almost like ‘aww’ when she misses it as opposed to going nuts when she makes it.”

The stats don’t always tell the full story, however, as even in games where her numbers aren’t necessarily there, her impact is still felt.

“We’ve had multiple games where she’s been face guarded or they won’t let her touch the ball and they’re focusing so much on Karissa and what that does is it allows the other players to get open looks,” Komara said. “You wouldn’t be able to know that by just looking at the stat sheet.”

McLaughlin has faced difficult defenses this season, but has still still been able to get enough space to get her shot off. She’s had eight games this season where she’s shot 50% or better from three.

During these games McLaughlin said she gets in a zone that not only helps her, but her teammates as well.

“It’s an incredible feeling and then when your teammates just keep finding you and keep knocking people over with their screens that they’re setting,” McLaughlin said. “It just builds energy and that’s exactly what I want to do for my team.”

To go along with being the shooter she is, McLaughlin is said to have become an arguably better teammate, bringing constant positivity.

“She’s always bringing the positivity and she’s always just encouraging us to trust ourselves and just go out and have fun,” Nkumu said. “It’s nice to have a different perspective. Obviously this is her fifth year, so she’s been kind of through it all and she’s been very willing and open to share with us her experiences.”

Nkumu said that McLaughlin brings a poise and confidence when stepping on the court, which stems from her experience.

“She just brings a different type of energy and poise to the game, no matter what team we’re playing, you know she’s always going to step out and put out her best efforts,” Nkumu said.

This mindset that Nkumu mentions has served to be a vital one in McLaughlin’s final season of collegiate basketball. However, Komara said she has seen a different side of McLaughlin, a creative one, as she’s interested in things like photography and fashion which may help her down the road.

“Basketball, a lot of it is creativity, making moves in the rhythm of a basketball game,” Komara said. “I think her creativity from the court is sort of helping her in the next phase of her life which I think is really cool.”

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @benschultz52. 

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