I hate games like this.
If you remove yourself from any fandom on either side, it was a fantastic basketball game, and when you dash in a mix of overtime, it’s damn near impossible to try to figure out where to start recapping something like Marquette’s 81-80 overtime loss to Providence on Tuesday night. The fact that I have to write something about Marquette losing a game when they led by three with five seconds to play makes it even harder. It’s always easy to say “This was awesome, and then this other awesome thing happened, and then another super thing happened, and then everyone highfived!”
That is not this game.
This is Marquette losing at home to a team that started the day, per the NCAA, at #99 in the NET, thus making this a Quad 3 loss for the moment for Marquette. It’s the first non-Quad 1 loss for the Golden Eagles this season, and to a certain extent, it wipes away all the goodness earned from MU’s first Quad 1 win of the season on Saturday against Villanova.
Let’s dispense with the first half, which ended with Providence leading 32-27, which I called at the time “Marquette being inexplicably only down five.” The Golden Eagles shot just 32% from the field in the first half and were it not for the fact that almost no one on the team could hit the broad side of a barn — Markus Howard, Koby McEwen, and Sacar Anim were a combined 7-for-24 — we would actually be talking about what a great job Marquette did corralling Providence’s offense. The first half’s defensive effort on the Friars was magnificent and more than enough to win the ball game.
Howard scored Marquette’s first eight points of the second half, not shaking off his funk so much as launching it into goddamned orbit, and tack on a bucket from McEwen and back-to-back threes from Brendan Bailey, and woaaaaah Nellie, Marquette was up eight all of a sudden, 43-35.
As it would turn out, this six-plus minute run to open the second half would be pretty much the last time that Marquette would do anything right for longer than about a minute.
That lead was gone when Alpha Diallo scored with 9:44 to go, and this was officially a duel. Providence nudged away, Marquette reeled them back. It kept going like that for a while, and then, with less than three minutes Sacar Anim decided it was his time to shine. Back-to-back possessions had buckets from the redshirt senior, first a triple, then a jumper in the lane, and MU was up two with 2:16 to go.
From there, it seemed that the Friars were deathly determined to literally throw this game away. They had consecutive hilariously awful turnovers with less than 70 seconds to play, and Bailey popped in a pair of freebies to make it a three point game with 18 seconds left. Head coach Steve Wojciechowski elected to play defense straight up, but AJ Reeves made the argument for fouling whilst up three, and drained a game tying triple. McEwen’s prayer at the buzzer was both off target and not off in time, so off to an extra five minutes we went.
For a moment, it felt as if we were going to get a vintage Markus Howard in overtime performance, as the senior from Arizona got an and-1 layup and a three for MU’s first six points of the extra session. However, the three only knotted the game at 73. Two damn near miracle free throws from Jayce Johnson — he missed his first four attempts in this one — tied it up again at 75. Bailey answered a three from Reeves with a three of his own.
Then, Kalif Young scored, Greg Elliott missed a three, and Marquette was forced to foul with less than 15 seconds to play. Luwane Pipkins made the first but not the second, and MU was alive for a chance to tie. Brendan Bailey’s three-point attempt was off.... but so was Young’s body contact. Bailey went to the line with a chance to force a tie at 81...... and missed the third.
Marquette seemingly forgot the time and score, and so it took most of three seconds to foul Maliek White, who rebounded the miss. He missed both of his free throws, the second one almost assuredly on purpose, and that was that.
The Golden Eagles drop to 1-2 in Big East play, while Providence rises to 3-0 and take a half-game lead on Butler in the conference standings.
Up Next: Oh, joy, it’s a road trip to Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles head to The Rock on Saturday suddenly in desperate need of a road win to balance out this stinker of a home loss, and the Pirates will most assuredly be sharpening their cutlasses to be ready to face Marquette after last year’s Big East tournament semifinal game.