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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

How senior leadership has led No. 19 Marquette to its best start in program history

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Photo by Keifer Russell
No. 19 Marquette women’s basketball enters Big East play undefeated for the first time in program history.

After a missed buzzer-beater shot in overtime, Marquette’s women’s basketball season came to an end in the blink of an eye when they fell to South Florida in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament last season. 

But the Golden Eagles have long forgotten about last year’s heartbreaking end.

Marquette is the No. 19 team in the country and is out to its best start in program history at 9-0. It is the highest the Golden Eagles have ever been ranked under head coach Megan Duffy, and 11 spots off the highest they’ve ever been ranked. 

Although they lost a total of eight players (two transferring and six graduating), including two of their starters, forward Chloe Marotta and guard Emily La Chapell, Duffy has found a way to fill in the gaps. She added two first-years, four transfers and two assistant coaches.

With all the changes happening so quickly, the team needed to find a way to gel all the pieces together. That was now the seniors’ responsibilities.  

“The five of us [seniors] have been working on our leadership since the summer,” senior forward Liza Karlen said. “This is something that is ongoing, and we continue to work on it.”

Karlen said that the seniors not only have meetings with their coaches, but meetings with their younger teammates to show them the ropes of being on the team. 

“This is new for the young guys. The way that they’re learning from guys like Liza Karlen and Frannie Hottinger, I’m proud,” Duffy said.

The team doesn’t only create connectedness on the court, but off the court as well.

Over the summer, Marquette was able to play different teams while traveling across Europe and in September, the team had their third annual Basketball Clinic, where they worked with kids during a summer camp.

Recently, the Golden Eagles collaborated with Next Door, who help resourced children get personalized early childhood educations, to Adopt a Family in Need. During the holiday season, they purchased and wrapped gifts to help spread joy outside of Marquette.

Senior guard Rose Nkumu said that the team enjoys spending time outside the gym, getting to bond in different ways.

“We have game nights together and we watch other college basketball games that are going on,” Nkumu said. “Even if it’s not basketball related, it’s really just getting to spend those little amounts of time together and getting to know each other.”

These bonding experiences off the court have translated to their play on the court.

This group of 12 are very connected and are working their talons off,” Duffy said. “If they’re showing up everyday with a great attitude and trying to improve, that’s a blessing for us [coaches].”

And they have vastly improved. They beat a ranked Illinois team, won the Fort Myers Tip-Off and multiple players have stepped up to fill the gaps, and gel the new pieces together after the departure of their past players.

Sophomore guard Mackenzie Hare — who is starting this season after filling a bench-depth role last year — is second in the nation in 3-point percentage, shooting 58.3% from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jordan King reached 1,500 career points in Marquette’s 87-52 win over Penn on Dec. 3 and the Golden Eagles have had six games this season with four or more players finishing with double-digit points.

But the offense hasn’t just been the starters, the bench is heavily involved. But offensive production isn’t limited to the starting five, the bench has continued to highlight the team’s depth.

First-year forward Skylar Forbes has come off the bench and positively impacted Marquette, with 55 points, 38 rebounds and 176 minutes total on the season.

“Skylar is an exciting freshman,” Duffy said. “She’s only going to get better, and I’m really proud of the energy and spark she’s bringing.”

When comparing the team’s game-by-game stats, Marquette leads its opponents in 3-pointers made (71-169 vs. 42-146), assists (183 vs. 92), free-throw percentage (.759 vs. .701), blocks (37 vs. 35), steals (77 vs. 62) and multiple other categories.

“We’ve always been a team that’s been able to execute, and us coaches and players that have been able to instill that into the younger players has been a really good start to our season,” King said.

After an intense, back-and-forth game against Illinois State on Dec. 10, they had to fight up until the final buzzer. Heading into the final minutes, Marquette trailed the Redbirds 47-41, but Karlen and King combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Golden eagles come out with a 64-62 victory, extending to their undefeated record.

The Golden Eagles look to continue “working their talons off” as they face the No. 20 Creighton Bluejays, their first Big East opponent Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST. 

This article was written by Raquel Ruiz. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @RaquelRuizMU. 

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About the Contributors
Raquel Ruiz, Sports Reporter
Raquel Ruiz is a first-year student from Mundelein, Illinois studying digital media and is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in her local community, spending time with friends and family and binge-watching tv shows. She is excited to learn from different people and explore what it is like to be a journalist in the media field.
Keifer Russell, Staff Photographer
Keifer Russell is a junior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin studying digital media and public relations and is a Staff Photographer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire he enjoys rock climbing, photography (figures), as well as finding and listening to new music. He is very excited to further refine his photographic content over the next year

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