Strength in numbers is key for women’s basketball’s success

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Photo by Alex DeBuhr

Marquette women’s basketball stands prior to the national prior to one its games last season.

If you look at how the Marquette women’s basketball team has played and won in the first month of the season, you will notice the Golden Eagles using their strength in numbers to their advantage. It is part of why Marquette is out to its best start in over a decade.

“After spending the summer with our team, we knew that there was going to be an overall theme,” assistant coach Kelly Komara said. “Coach Duffy has said it all year, and it’s going to continue to be our mantra all season, strength in numbers.” 

This theme of strength in numbers came to life Nov. 27 in Marquette’s 83-40 victory against Saint Francis, when every player on the roster scored and grabbed a rebound. Overall, 37 of the Golden Eagles’ 83 points in the victory came from the bench. 

But in previous seasons, this depth has not always been present.

“It’s been amazing being able to see how deep we’ve been able to go at every position,” senior guard Jordan King said. “There (are) other people that are also just stepping up and doing their roles night in and night out. That’s been something that we haven’t had in the past, and I’m really excited to keep developing that through the year.” 

Eight out of the 12 players on the roster are averaging double figures in minutes per game. The bench alone is currently averaging 19.6 points per game. 

King said these contributions had to do with each member’s dedication to the overall goals of the team. 

“People (are) buying into to what coaches are asking of them,” King said. “This year, we’ve just got more experience too. All around, you can list one through twelve in which ways they’re contributing to the team.” 

Komara said that this depth in the roster was not something that surprised the coaching staff. 

“Early on, we knew that this would be a year that we would go very deep in our bench,” Komara said. “We have a lot of really talented players and knew that it would take all of them to help us win.”  

One player that has been strong off the bench for Marquette this season is first-year guard Mackenzie Hare, who is averaging 9.1 points per game while shooting 32.2% from beyond the arc.   

“Coming into your freshman year, you’re trying to learn a lot and understand what college basketball is,” King said. “Her being able to come off the bench and add some shots for us and make those threes when she has them has been great. (She’s) adding different looks around the court for us.”

Hare said that it has been a great experience to be able to see action in her first year at Marquette. 

“It’s been so fun,” Hare said. “(I’m) definitely learning a lot, and I have great leadership from Jordan, Chloe (and) Liza. It’s just been so fun to learn from them, and to get to play has been super awesome.” 

In just her second game of her collegiate career Nov. 11, Hare netted 18 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter, on 5-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc.

Komara said that Hare’s performance has set the tone for the rest of the program. 

“Anybody that’s ever seen her play knows that she isn’t afraid to take shots,” Komara said. “The confidence that she has to do that has really helped not only our team but it’s helped our entire program understand that at any point in time, your number could be called. If you’re ready and you step up, you have the green light to do what you do.”

Hare has seen extended action in every contest this season, averaging 18.8 minutes per game, which ranks 6th on the team overall. She leads the team in three-pointers made per game with 2.1.

With guard Karissa McLaughlin graduating in the year prior, Komara said that Hare has been an added bonus to this year’s roster.

“With the loss of Karissa McLaughlin last year, who was our ‘knock down lights out’ shooter, (that) was really big for us,” Komara said. “(Kenzie) is a phenomenal shooter. For us, having her as an option, whether she’s starting or coming off the bench, that extra offensive threat has really been a boost for us.” 

King said that Hare is not the only player who has succeeded off the bench this year for Marquette. King also harped on how having a strong bench adds more options for the team.

“It gives us a more dynamic look being able to bring in different people who are going to play within our system, but play in a different way,” King said. “If we need to have a bigger lineup, (we) bring in Claire (Kaifes) or Emily (La Chapell) from the guard position.”  

After missing last season due to an ACL injury, senior guard Claire Kaifes has also been an offensive threat off the bench. Kaifes has also appeared in each of Marquette’s nine games averaging 13.6 minutes per game. 

King, who has started in each of her 101 collegiate career games, said that the bench contribution this season has given her more confidence as a starter. 

“That’s been a really big thing for our success so far this year,” King said. “I’ve had foul trouble in the Bahamas or (in) games before that. Being able to put someone in off the bench who’s prepared and ready to play and will go out and do their job is really important for the team’s success.” 

Komara said that contributions from the bench will be crucial to the team’s success in the Big East. 

“Our standard here at Marquette is to play as hard as you possibly can for as long as you can and then we’ll get you a sub,” Komara said. “Having those extra bodies to be able to come in and really contribute, (that is) going to help us as we really get deep into the Big East play. Come in and not just sustain what we’re doing, but raise it to the next level.” 

As the season goes on, the theme of strength in numbers will remain a key factor for the Golden Eagles this year. 

“Anytime you have options, you don’t feel like you’re stuck,” Komara said. “It’s like, ‘okay, if I’m not performing well tonight, I know my teammate has my back.’ That’s the overall theme this year of strength in numbers.” 

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.