The women’s basketball game between Marquette and Notre Dame at the Al McGuire Center on Saturday certainly isn’t lacking for star power.
The highly anticipated matchup between the No. 19 Golden Eagles (9-2) and the second-ranked Fighting Irish (10-1) will feature nine players who have scored over 1,000 points in college and a 10th woman who is on the cusp.
For MU, seniors Allazia Blockton, Natisha Hiedeman, Erika Davenport, Amani Wilborn and Danielle King all have reached the 1,000-point mark.
For defending national champion Notre Dame, Milwaukee native Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey, Brianna Turner and Jessica Shepard (including two seasons at Nebraska) all have scored over 1,000 points while junior Jackie Young is 22 away.
“You’re going to see a lot of offense on Saturday,” MU coach Carolyn Kieger said Thursday. “I think fans are in for a treat. It’s two very heavy-hitting offensive teams.
“A lot of power, a lot of great guard play. Obviously Notre Dame is very deep with those starting five and so are we. A lot of experience on the floor as well, so it should be a really fun matchup.”
Ogunbowale has scored 2,022 points for Notre Dame. The former Divine Savior Holy Angels star will present a tall task for the MU defense.
“It’s going to be by committee,” Kieger said. “No question, I think we’re going to throw different people at her. We’re going to try different defenses.
“We’ve got to slow her down in transition. She’s phenomenal with the ball in her hands, attacking downhill. So we want to make sure we’re sprinting back to the three-point line and packing up the paint.”
Ogunbowale became a national star last season after sinking two game-winning shots in the Final Four.
“She hit two of the biggest shots in women’s basketball history,” Kieger said. “She’s got ice in her veins. For us, it will be a great test in guarding her late-game.
“She obviously wants the ball in pressure situations and she produced. It shows how far the women’s game has come. I thought it was amazing for our sport.”
Growing up, Ogunbowale played on the same AAU teams as fellow Milwaukee natives Blockton and Wilborn.
“Their senior year, to play in Milwaukee, I think it’s going to be fun for all of them, not just Arike,” Kieger said.
The teams had a thrilling battle last season in South Bend, Ind., with the Irish earning a 91-85 victory in overtime.
“I think our girls are really excited to have them at home,” Kieger said. “We’ve got to make sure we play tough. We’ve got to make sure we finish and play a full 40 (minutes).
“And if we do that I think we will be in good shape.”
While MU can put points on the board, Kieger thinks rebounding will be the key to beating Notre Dame.
“I think that’s what lost us the game last year, to be honest,” Kieger said. “So this year we’ve been talking about it from the first practice.
“If we want to win high-level games, we’ve got to make sure we rebound and play physical. So, for us, we’ve been talking about it all week, we’ve been practicing and hopefully we can come out and play a lot bigger than we are.”