PREVIEW: Marquette looks for first ever win over UConn to advance to BIG EAST Tournament finals

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(Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Marquette women’s basketball team will look to continue its three-game winning streak Sunday afternoon when they face No. 7 UConn in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals.

“It’s going to be a complete switch of what the game will feel like. I mean UConn, their defense continues to be taken up to another level as they get all their bodies back,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said following the win over DePaul. “Some of the easy baskets we got will not be there tomorrow, we understand that.”

Marquette enters the afternoon, coming off a 105-85 win over DePaul Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles set a BIG EAST Tournament record with 44 made field goals while scoring 32 points against the Blue Demons alone in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore forward Liza Karlen led the way for the Golden Eagles with a career-high 26 points, 14 rebounds and two assists. Karlen was one of three Golden Eagles to score 20 or more points.

Meanwhile for the Huskies, they’re coming off an 84-38 win over Georgetown. In the second quarter, UConn held the Hoyas to just three points which paved the way for their lopsided win.

Sophomore guard Paige Bueckers came off the bench for UConn but still led the Huskies in points with 16 points. She also recorded five rebounds and four assists.

Fun Facts

  • This is the sixth straight BIG EAST Tournament Semifinals appearance for the Golden Eagles and the second straight for UConn since rejoining the BIG EAST in 2020.
  • The last time these teams played in the BIG EAST Tournament was the 2021 final in which UConn won 74-39.
  • UConn has won eight straight games with their last loss coming on Feb. 9th when they lost to Villanova 72-69.
  • The Golden Eagles are 4-1 in their past five games.
  • Marquette had the highest field goal percentage (65.7%) in a BIG EAST Tournament history in their win over DePaul Saturday afternoon.

A Look Back

  • UConn won the regular-season series 2-0.
  • Since joining the BIG EAST in 2006, Marquette and UConn have played just once in the BIG EAST Tournament.
  • Marquette has never beaten the Huskies as UConn is 14-0 all time versus the Golden Eagles.

Key Players

  • Graduate student forward Lauren Van Kleunen is Marquette’s most experienced player and major post presence. The 2021-22 BIG EAST All-Conference first teamer is averaging 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Van Kleunen scored 20 points in the BIG EAST Quarterfinal matchup versus DePaul.
  • Karlen is one of three forwards to start for the Golden Eagles. In the past seven games Karlen is averaging 15.7 points and eight rebounds per game for Marquette.
  • Junior guard Jordan King is the Golden Eagles primary ball-handler. King is averaging 10 points and 3.5 assists per game in the two matchups versus UConn this season.
  • Senior forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 2021-22 All-BIG EAST First Team player missed the first matchup versus Marquette with an injury. Nelson-Ododa is the Huskies leading rebounder, grabbing 7.5 boards a game.
  • Senior guard Christyn Williams, a 2021-22 All-BIG EAST First Team player is the Huskies second leading scorer, averaging 14.9 points per game. Williams is also a threat from deep making 42 of 112 attempts from deep this season.

Keys to the Game

  • Marquette: Win the rebounding battle. The Golden Eagles are 18-7 when winning the rebounding battle this season. It will be key to limit second chance opportunities for UConn and create second chance points for themselves.
  • UConn: Spread the floor. In four of the Huskies five losses they made three or fewer three’s. In the two wins against Marquette this season UConn made a total of 16 three pointers which is the most from any BIG EAST team in their regular season series versus Marquette.

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.