They’ve won their last six games. They could conceivably win their final three of the regular season — at home against Indianapolis and Saint Joseph’s (two teams they have already defeated on the road) and on the road at Bellarmine. They also have clinched a first-round bye in the GLVC Tournament, which means they’ll go directly to the quarterfinals at Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri.
Individually, the keys to USI’s success have been Anna Hackert and her monstrous final season and the emergence of sophomore Tanner Marcum as a scorer to be reckoned with. Hackert is doing what we expected, although it must still be filed in the amazing category because EVERYONE knew — opponents especially included — what she could do. And she’s still done it while being double- and triple-teamed.
And Marcum? Well, I am not that surprised. She played little last season as a freshman, but when she did she looked good. She always played hard and never, ever looked lost; she looked like she’d been playing USI basketball for years. It was just a matter of plugging her into the lineup regularly, then sitting back and watching her shoot the lights out.
Which reminds of a stat that will blow the top of your head off: Marcum is shooting 50.7 percent … from 3-point range. She’s 34-for-67 beyond the arc, far better than anyone else in the GLVC (in second place is Drury’s Annie Armstrong at 48.8 percent). Heck, overall she’s shooting 54.5 percent — that ranks third in the GLVC. A guard shooting well over 50 percent from the field is almost unheard of because guards are mostly jump shooters, even the ones who drive to the hoop. They’re not tall enough to stand under the basket and get garbage points on putbacks off teammates’ missed shots (I am NOT saying that’s easy, just that it’s not quite as difficult as shooting from 15 feet on out).
Remember this season. They don’t come around like this very often (the last one? That would be 2000-01 when the Eagles advanced to the Elite Eight). If nothing else, appreciate the topping off a magnificent college basketball career with one of the greatest individual seasons in USI women’s hoops history while simultaneously watching the advent of another amazing individual career. Now THAT almost never happens.