With 11:36 remaining in the second half, Marquette took the lead 57-55 and would not look back. The Golden Eagles would lead by as many as 13 points in the final minutes of the game.
Marquette shot 53.7-percent from the field and was 9-for-11 (81.8-percent) from behind the arc which is the highest of any BIG EAST team this season. Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder each scored 18 points for the Golden Eagles.
ESPN: Recap (AP)
“We spend an inordinate amount of time in practice on our defense,” Williams said. “I think in the last 13 minutes we were good defensively — maybe our best all year.”
The Golden Eagles’ tough man-to-man defense combined with some solid shooting turned a close game into an easy win. Marquette shot 68.2 percent (15 of 22) after halftime.
“I don’t know why we start out slow, but in the second half we always pick it up and get the job done,” Gardner said.
Like its last game, Marquette started sluggishly, but responded with a quick turnaround. In the second half, Wilson took over, scoring nine points in a key stretch.
Providence Journal: Friars drop ‘winnable’ game
The second half, however, was a different story. Marquette, now 16-4 and 5-2 in the Big East, dominated most of the final 13 minutes and beat the Friars, 79-72. On defense, the Golden Eagles limited the Friars to one field goal in a nine-minute stretch as the game turned for good. Offensively, Marquette shot a sizzling 68 percent in the second half and 53 percent for the game and left Cooley talking to himself.
“Today was as winnable a game as we’ve had in about a month,” Cooley said. “Our lack of overall toughness from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint defensively really, really bothered me today.”
GoLocalProv: Marquette’s hot shots top Providence, 79-72
In the second half alone, Marquette shot 68% from the floor (15 of 22 field goals made), adding 3-for-3 from the three-point stripe to the 6-for-8 performance in the first half. The Friars were also held to just seven offensive rebounds in the second half, after gaining 14 in the first period.
In total, those numbers were too tough to overcome, especially on a night where the Golden Eagles didn’t need much help from the free throw line…shooting their way to a fifth Big East win, and their first on the road this season.
The Sun Chronicle: Marquette tops defenseless PC
“He’s (Cooley) got those guys playing extremely hard,” added Williams. “They keep you off balance, they do a great job of getting fouls, a great job of offensive rebounding.”
The Friars out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 40-33 and outscored them (20-12) at the charity stripe, but Marquette shot a Big East season best nine of 11 three-point field goals.
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Wilson leads Marquette victory
Wilson then went to work.
He broke the tie with a jumper and then hit a three and Marquette led by five. Wilson later picked up a loose ball off the court under the Marquette basket and scored. He then hit a jumper, giving him nine straight Marquette points, and the Golden Eagles led, 66-59, with 7:57 left.
You can be physical (see Jae Crowder) without being tall. Buzz Williams has built a roster short on length, but long on physical, bruising guards who are constantly in attack mode.
What they also have is a bruising small forward in Crowder and another long small forward developing in Wilson. The lengthy, tough, athletic small forward has been something that so many of the better Big East teams have featured recently, and it’s been a serious deficiency around these parts of late. JaKarr Sampson anyone?
Williams’ style of play allows his team to fall behind Providence 14-6, Louisville 18-2, and Pittsburgh 14-5, only to come back and win each time. His group is in constant attack mode, wears on their opponents and they are physical on both sides of the ball. The recent results have been a series of second half comeback wins. Longer term, it’s a formula that’s turned Marquette into a perennial top 25 team.
Anonymous Eagle: No. 21/22 Marquette 79, Providence 72
I know Keno Davis isn’t the coach at Providence anymore, but his fingerprints were all over the Friars’ defensive effort this evening. Marquette shot 53.7% from the field and 81.8% from 3-point land for the game. That includes a ridiculous 71% shooting in the 2nd half!