Men's College Basketball

Marquette Fends Off Late Providence Charge, Advances to Big East Final


Providence guard Corey Floyd Jr. attemps a shot against Marquette forward Oso Ighodaro during Friday’s Big East Tournament Semifinal Game at Madison Square Garden. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The third seeded Marquette Golden Eagles fended off a late charge by the seventh seed Providence Friars to take a 79-68 win during Friday’s Big East tournament semifinal game in front of 19,812 at sold out Madison Square Garden.

Marquette forward Oso Ighodaro opened the scoring with a jump shot to give the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead. Friars guard Jayden Pierre answered with a three-pointer to give his team the one point lead. It would be the only lead Providence would hold in the game.

David Joplin, the Marquette forward, regained the lead with a layup and guard Stevie Mitchell extended the lead with a three-pointer. The Golden Eagles now led 7-3 after the first two minutes of play.

The teams exchanged baskets though Marquette slowly increased their lead to seven when Providence took advantage of missed Golden Eagle shots and a turnover. Forward Josh Oduro nailed a three-pointer to go with layups from guard Corey Floyd Jr. and Pierre to cut the deficit to two. It was 16-14 with 11:23 left until the halftime break when the 7-2 run ended.

Not to be outdone, the Golden Eagles responded with their huge 17-2 run led by seven points from guard Kam Jones and six points from Ighodaro. Garwey Dual’s layup was the only Providence score during that seven minute stretch. Marquette now led 35-18 with 4:11 left in the half.

The Friars regrouped and began chipping the deficit away. Guard Devin Carter scored on a layup which was followed by one from Oduro. Carter was fouled by Marquette guard Chase Ross but only made one free throw, and Oduro was then fouled by Marquette’s Ighodaro. Oduro converted both free shots to make the score 35-25. The teams traded baskets during the last two minutes, which found Marquette leading 42-31 at the halftime break.

Providence Friars guard Devin Carter attempts a shot that Marquette guard Tre Norman tries to block during Friday’s Big East Tournament Semifinal game at Madison Square Garden. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Like the opening of the game, the second half kicked off with an Ighodaro jump shot, which was followed by a layup from Mitchell. For a moment, it appeared that the large Marquette run had done in the Friars.

Pierre was fouled by Golden Eagles forward David Joplin. After making both free throws, Pierre scored on a three-pointer on the Friars next possession. Marquette’s Kam Jones missed a layup. It was rebounded by Carter who threw the outlet to Pierre who missed the fast break layup. Carter grabbed the rebounded but missed his layup. Davonte “Ticket” Gaines, the Providence guard, came down with the offensive board, and passed off to Carter who sank the three-pointer. The 8-0 Providence run forced Marquette to call a timeout with 17:50 remaining in regulation with the score 46-39.

Marquette settled down after the timeout. A layup by Mitchell and three-pointers by Jones and Ben Gold allowed the Golden Eagles to erase the Friars hard fought gains.

Providence went on another run to try to catch Marquette. Carter made one three-pointer and was fouled twice while attempting three-pointers. He converted all six free throws making nine points during the stretch. Gaines was fouled by Mitchell, who made both free shots. After the 11-2 run, the score was now 62-57 with 7:50 remaining on the clock.

Carter struck again a few minutes later, scoring five points during a 7-1 Providence run to cut the deficit to two points, making the score 68-66 in favor of Marquette.

Marquette guard Kam Jones and Providence guard Garwey Dual battle for a rebound during Friday’s Big East Tournament Semifinal game at Madison Square Garden. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Golden Eagles stood tall and fought back. Jones made a jumper. Ighodaro made two free throws after being fouled by Oduro. Jones made another layup, as did Ross. Marquette closed out the game with an 11-2 run for the 79-68 victory.

Marquette went 26-for-57 from the field (45.6 percent); 8-for-15 from three-point range (53.3 percent); and 19-for-24 from the free throw line (79.2 percent). They committed eight turnovers which led to six Providence points. Marquette also dished 14 assists on 26 field goals.

“It was a heck of an effort by Providence. I thought they played with tremendous desperation, and playing a third game in three days, they found a level of energy that allowed them to almost over take us there. I think the lead got as small as two,” said Marquette head coach Shaka Smart.

“But Stevie [Mitchell] and his teammates just continued to battle. I thought the trust that our guys in our way more so culturally really than anything else is why we’re sitting up here right now,” he added.

Providence went 20-for-55 from the field (36.4 percent); 7-for-31 from three-point range (22.6 percent); and 21-for-28 from the free throw line (75.0 percent). They turned the ball over 11 times for 16 Marquette points.

“Yeah, tough loss for us, tough game. Didn’t play our best game, didn’t play well as a group. Marquette obviously has a lot to do with that. I thought we did some things better than our last time against them. But it was the spurt in the first half that took the lead to 17,” said Friars head coach Kim English. “Some of that stuff was self-inflicted. Some of that stuff was my fault. Some things we did differently to try to throw a wrench in them to try to slow them down, they were shooting at such a high clip. But we learned from it. We move on.”

Providence Friars guard Devin Carter attempts to block a shot by Marquette Golden Eagles guard Stevie Mitchell during Friday’s Big East Tournament Semifinal at Madison Square Garden. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Golden Eagles were led by 23 points from Kam Jones, 20 points from Oso Ighodaro, while David Joplin scored 12 points and Stevie Mitchell added 10 points. Mitchell led Marquette with eight rebounds and Jones led the team with five assists.

“I think the biggest thing is like every game we come in expecting it to be a war,” said Mitchell. “And I think that’s the mindset we have and it’s all about winning. None of us care about it being pretty. We just want to win the game.”

Devin Carter scored a game-high 27 points and led the Friars with three assists. Jayden Pierre pitched in for 16 points. Josh Oduro and Davonte “Ticket” Gaines each pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

“We were just talking (at halftime), you know, just getting defensive rebounds. We gave them a lot of second chance opportunities first half. So we just talked about that and just being aggressive. Like we were kind of playing timid, not really wanting to shoot open shots. So just told everybody to start shooting open shots, start taking them and making them,” said Carter.

Providence led 13-10 in second chance points, but Marquette had a 36-26 advantage in points-in-the-paint. There were no ties and two lead changes.

Marquette now advances to the Big East tournament championship game tomorrow night against the top seeded UConn Huskies at 6:30 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

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