Dayton and Marquette bring a similar motivation to the first round of the NCAA women’s tourmament in that both teams lost their first games a year ago.
As a No. 12 seed playing No. 5 seed Tennessee, the Flyers weren’t supposed to win last March. The same couldn’t be said for the Golden Eagles, a No. 5 seed which lost 68-65 to No. 12 seed Quinnipiac. That loss remains on the minds of the Marquette players and coaches as they prepare for a 2:30 p.m. Friday game against Dayton at the KFC Yum! Center.
“I think the biggest thing that I learned is last year,” Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger said, “is we were just so intent on making the NCAA tournament, we talked about that all year, and then when we got there, it was like, okay now what. And all year long we’ve been talking about going farther than this program ever has been before, so I think that was one thing that I changed is let’s not just make the goal to get to the tournament, let’s make the goal to win a couple games and advance as far as we can.”
Marquette (23-9) is the flight favorite as the No. 8 seed, though the 8-9 game is usually a toss-up in the NCAA tournament. The Golden Eagles have won four games in 11 NCAA appearances and have never advanced past the second round.
Marquette was a No. 8 seed in 2011, the last time it won a first-round game. It beat Texas 68-65 in the first round.
Like Dayton, Marquette enters the tournament after losing its last game. It suffered its most lopsided loss of the season, 98-63 to DePaul in the Big East championship game.
Kieger was asked about that loss Thursday in a press conference before practice in Louisville.
“Every game is different, and for us, last year we won the Big East and we lost our first-round game,” Kieger said. “This year we’re planning on doing the opposite. We didn’t win the DePaul game, but we’re planning on going further. That game is over, and it might still be in your mind but it’s not in ours, and we’re focused on this game right here, so that’s all our team is worried about.”