Saturday, February 3, 2018

Providence 77, Marquette 75: Friars' defense delivers in the road win

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch- USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE— Behind a gritty effort on defense with the Marquette Golden Eagles (13-10, 4-7 Big East) missing their last 12 shots from the perimeter, the Providence Friars (15-8, 6-4 Big East) snapped a two-game losing streak in a 77-75 win at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon.

On top of the perimeter stops, Providence forced Marquette into 14 turnovers, with the most critical coming as time expired as Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey forced Markus Howard to lose the ball after Maliek White missed a pair of free throws seconds before. Friars coach Ed Cooley felt relieved to see the players respond after White’s misses from the foul line.

“I thought that was unbelievable because we were trying to slow the progression of the ball,” Cooley said. “We missed the free throw and with time ticking, Howard lost it and was good recognition from Lindsey and glad he is a senior.”

The Golden Eagles appeared to be on the verge of another high volume output with four straight three-pointers to begin the game. Aware of Markus Howard’s Big East record 52-point outburst on Jan. 3, Friars coach Ed Cooley knew things needed to change and they did as Howard was held to 3-of-14 from the field.

“There were a lot of baskets that he made in Rhode Island [in the first meeting],” Cooley said. “If we couldn’t learn from that, then I am a bad coach. It was good focus on our team’s behalf to shut him down. We are glad we don’t have to play him until the Big East Tournament or next season.”

Andrew Rowsey was held to seven points and fouled out with 6:27 left regulation as Marquette needed another spark outside of Howard. The Golden Eagles received one from freshman Theo John. John’s fingerprints were all over the scoreboard with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 25 minutes off the bench.

“We got a huge lift from Theo and even Greg [Elliott],” Wojciechowski said. “Those two kids were really good in a tough environment. Those kids keep getting better and it is sometimes lost that we are the youngest team in the Big East.”

All five of Providence’s starters finished in double figures scoring, highlighted by Alpha Diallo’s team-high 16 points, on 6-of-11 from the field.

Marquette came out with a purpose as it stormed out to a 10-3 lead, highlighted by three point makes from Sam Hauser and Sacar Anim and made five of its first six baskets as a unit.

The Friars regrouped as they closed the Golden Eagles’ lead to 14-12 before a long-range conversion from the wing by Howard ended the rally. Marquette’s offensive efficiency showed its colors with six assists on eight field goal conversions in the first 8:05 of the game.

Despite the hot start from Marquette, Providence countered with a 11-0 run to go ahead 28-22 at the 6:59 mark of the first half, highlighted by Diallo and Cartwright’s first points of the game.

With Hauser on the bench with two fouls, the Golden Eagles went to John for production off the bench. John delivered with a couple of thunderous blocks as it played a key role in Marquette’s 11-0 run to go back ahead of Providence at 33-28.

The first half ended with a combined three turnovers from both teams as Marquette held a 38-37 advantage on Providence.

Both teams exchanged leads in the first 3:03 of the second half before Marquette reaffirmed control behind a pair of makes by Hauser to go ahead 47-43. The Friars went 5:18 without a field goal, but managed to not let the deficit grow any worse as Isaiah Jackson’s layup ended the drought to go up 50-49 with 13:06 left.

The field goal woes would hit the Golden Eagles as the Friars’ 2-3 zone began to take them out of rhythm as they went 8:07 without a field goal before Elliott’s dunk ended the drought as they faced a 63-57 deficit. Adversity hit Marquette moments later Rowsey would foul out with seven points, on 2-of-5 from the field.

The Friars pounced on the Golden Eagles as their lead ballooned to 68-57 on Cartwright’s mid-range jumper with 4:53 left. With their backs against the wall, the Golden Eagles would score the next six points, but could not retake the lead as the Friars escaped from snowy Milwaukee with a road win.

Game Note:

Unrelated to the PC/Marquette game as the St. John’s Red Storm, who came into Saturday’s game 0-11 in Big East play scored arguably the biggest upset of the college basketball season with an 81-77 non-conference win over the No. 4-ranked Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden behind a 33-point performance from Shamorie Ponds.

Cooley has been one of the main coaches over the years who believed in the depth of the Big East from top to bottom in the fifth season of realignment.

“Big East man, that’s big time man. That made my day. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that,” Cooley said with a smile from ear to ear.

Looking Ahead:

The Friars return to action on Feb. 6 as they host the Georgetown Hoyas for a 7:30 p.m. tip, while the Golden Eagles begin a three-game road trip at the Seton Hall Pirates on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

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