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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Golden Eagles face Ole Miss in NCAA Tournament opener

Marquette women’s basketball faces Ole Miss Saturday at 3:45 p.m. CST. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Megan Duffy is back in a familiar place this weekend.

The Marquette women’s basketball head coach went to the Big Dance four times as a point guard at Notre Dame, where she played from 2002-2006. Now, Duffy is back on the Fighting Irish campus for the No. 10 seed Golden Eagles’ NCAA Tournament first round matchup against seventh-seeded Ole Miss Saturday at the Joyce Center.

“We are thrilled to be at the NCAA Tournament in South Bend,” Duffy said. “Being in March Madness and getting the opportunity to play one more game, there’s no greater time of year.”

She made two Sweet 16 appearances with Notre Dame in her four years in the navy and gold.

“It’s a very comfortable place for me,” Duffy, a 1,000-point scorer for the Irish, said. “It really shaped me as not only a player, but in my coaching career, as well.”

Duffy and Co. look to shake an 0-2 record in the NCAA Tournament since she joined Marquette five seasons ago, including last year’s 67-65 overtime loss to South Florida in Columbia, South Carolina.

“We are always in a mindset of relentless growth, we are trying to get better from the Big East Tournament,” Duffy said.

Here are three keys to the Golden Eagles’ matchup with the Rebels:

1. Marquette’s senior leadership

Marquette may lose four starters after this season, including All-Big East first-team senior forward Liza Karlen. The Saint Paul, Minnesota native has been the Golden Eagles’ leader on both ends of the floor all season, averaging 17.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Along with Karlen, All-Big East second team senior guard Jordan King will play in her third NCAA Tournament with Duffy at Marquette.

“I’m looking forward to being back in that moment,” King said. It’s win or go home at the end of the season, so for me and a couple other girls, we will leave it all on the floor.”

These two are joined on the floor by graduate forward Frannie Hottinger — who averages 7.1 boards per game — and senior guard Rose Nkumu, who sits 10th in the nation with a 2.81 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Duffy said her veterans have stepped up in preparation for Saturday’s game.

“We’ve talked to them about how they set the tone in practice this week, and I’m proud of the way they have kept our standard high during this back end of the season,” Duffy said.

Combined, the four make up for 63.8% of Marquette’s scoring, and all will need to be on top of their game if the Golden Eagles are to book their ticket to the second round for the first time under Duffy.

2. Three-point shooting

Defensively, Ole Miss is susceptible to 3-pointers, as it ranks 218th in the country in three-point defense. Marquette is the 15th best deep shooting team in the country, averaging 36.7% from downtown.

All-Big East honorable mention and sophomore guard Mackenzie Hare leads the Golden Eagles in shooting outside the arc at 43.2%, good for 13th nationwide.

“We will do the same thing we have done all year,” Kenzie said on getting outside looks. “Jordan [King] and Rose [Nkumu] do a great job of getting me the ball and getting me into my spot.”

Ole Miss will have to protect the perimeter, as Marquette is efficient when it can get paint touches and kick out to its shooters, executing its inside-out offensive style.

Establishing offensive rhythm early and connecting on open looks, especially from beyond the arc, will allow Marquette to take advantage of Ole Miss’ subpar perimeter defense.

On the defensive end, Ole Miss shoots only 26.4% from outside, so Marquette will have to keep the Rebels from getting inside.

3. Rebels’ inside presence

Ole Miss is effective inside the lane on both sides.

It ranks third in the country at stuffing their opponents at the rim, averaging 6.1 blocks per game.

“They are extremely athletic, fast and big,” Karlen said. “I think the SEC doesn’t really have teams with the style we play, so it’ll be an interesting matchup.”

Offensively, the Rebels love to score inside and create points for themselves. They rank 10th in the nation in free throw attempts per game (22.81) and 11th in offensive rebounding margin (15.5).

First-team All-SEC and senior guard Marquesha Davis is a slashing wing who leads the team in scoring — 14.6 points per game — loves cutting to the basket and drawing fouls, fitting right in with Ole Miss’ style of play.

“We need to make them uncomfortable,” King said on stopping Ole Miss’ slashing game. “We need to stop the drives early and play great team defense through our rotations.”

Both teams in the first-round matchup are in the top 50 in rebound margin, and winning on the glass will be crucial for either team’s success.

Marquette needs to win on the glass, which they have done in 24 games this season, and limit Ole Miss’ second-chance buckets.

How To Follow

  • Watch: Tip-off is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. CST and will be televised on ESPNU.
  • Live Updates on Twitter/X and Broadcast: Follow @hilsontrevor, @adrianfraga10, and @muwiresports. The broadcast will be on MU Radio

This story was written by Trevor Hilson. He can be reached at [email protected] or @hilsontrevor on Twitter/X. 

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About the Contributor
Trevor Hilson
Trevor Hilson, Sports Audio Producer
Trevor Hilson is from Muskegon, Michigan and he is a journalism major. He is the Sports Audio Producer for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, he plays a lot of golf and gives lessons to his friends. He is excited for the national championship banner going into the Fiserv rafters for men's hoops at the start of next season.

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