Women’s hoops Big East preview

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer | The women’s basketball team saw its first taste of action in front of a crowd with an intersquad scrimmage at Musketeer Madness on Oct. 19. 

The Musketeers will contend in the Big East with a majority of the team returning. Junior guard Na’Teshia Owens comes back as the only returning starter. Xavier also retained sophomore guard Aaliyah Dunham, who was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team last season.

DePaul tied for its fifth regular season title and third Big East Tournament title last season. It will return four starters, including its top two scorers in Mart’e Grays with 14.4 ppg and Ashton Millender with 13.6 ppg. DePaul finished the season as the nation’s sixth-highest scoring team with 83 ppg.

Marquette tied for the regular season crown last year and advanced to the Big East Tournament final for the second straight year. The Golden Eagles are also the only Big East team to return all five of its starters for the season, who collectively averaged a conference-leading 80.1 points against Big East opponents. Senior guard Allazia Blockton looks to defend her title as Big East Player of the Year.

Villanova came in third place in the regular season standings last year and also comes in at No. 3 in this year’s preseason poll. The Wildcats return three starters from last season including reigning Big East Sixth Woman of the Year Mary Gedaka.

Creighton was the last Big East team to make it into March Madness last season, with a 19-13 record. Its biggest surprise was upsetting No. 6 Iowa in the opening round of tournament play.The Blue Jays also finished fourth in the Big East last season, going 11-7.

The team has a trio of returning starters including the top two scorers in Audrey Faber (14.8 ppg) and Jay Angnew (15.6 ppg).

The Hoyas made it to their first Big East semifinals in 18 years but ultimately came up short. Georgetown finished with an even .500 across the board, going 16-16 overall and 9-9 in Big East play. The Hoyas will look to Big East Defensive Player of the Year Dionna White to get the squad above the .500 mark.

The Red Storm didn’t make it to the Madness last year but made a quarterfinals appearance in the Women’s NIT. St. John’s finished 19-15 overall last season and returns four of its top five point scorers. Reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Qadashah Hoppie scored 10.1 ppg and contributed 1.6 assists per game. The Red Storm hasn’t finished lower than fifth in the Big East regular season standings since 2013.

The Butler Bulldogs return four of their starters this season, along with their top three scorers in Whitney Jennings (16.8 ppg), Tori Schickel (16.4 ppg) and Kristen Spolyar (11.6 ppg). The Bulldogs finished in seventh place in the conference last year, going 7-11.
Seton Hall finished an even .500 last year at 16-16 overall and come in at No. 8 in this year’s poll.

The Pirates will need to improve upon their 3-15 conference record and have their top scorer Jovana Nogic to do it. Nogic finished in the top 10 in assists, steals and assist-turnover ratio in the Big East last year.

Providence went 3-15 in Big East play to round out its 10-21 season. The Friars return four starters and Chanell Williams, who earned All-Freshman honors last season.

By: Jack Dunn | U.S. & World News Editor