Final Score: Marquette 61, Providence 50

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette dominated the first half and held off a 16-0 second half surge to defeat Providence.

A balanced scoring effort led Marquette (12-9, 4-4 Big East) to a 61-50 win over Providence (15-6, 5-3 BE) Thursday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Davante Gardner led Marquette with 14 points and Jamil Wilson chipped in 11. Of the 11 Marquette players to see time, only forward Steve Taylor Jr. failed to score and four players had at least five rebounds. On the flipside, only six players scored for the Friars, and guard Bryce Cotton (20) and forward LeDontae Henton (18) were the only two to score more than four points.

While Marquette hovered steadily around 39 percent shooting for the game, Providence had two completely different halves. The Friars shot just 18 percent in the first 20 minutes and 47 percent in the second half.

It was a matter of time for the Friars offensively in the second half, and a three-pointer forward Tyler Harris six minutes in cut Marquette’s lead to 11. Providence applied a full court press that didn’t allow the Golden Eagles to get into their sets. The Friars scored as many points in the first 6:15 of the second half as they did in the entire opening frame.

Providence continued to chip away, and Cotton’s jumper with 12:15 to go shrunk the deficit to six points. In all, the Friars unleashed a 16-0 run before senior forward Jamil Wilson’s jumper ended Marquette’s drought.

The Golden Eagles stopped the bleeding eventually, and never let the lead get to less than three points. As a counter to Providence’s pressure, Marquette threw on a press of its own that forced the ball out of Cotton’s hands.

The Friars hung around though thanks to Henton and Cotton. While Providence never drew closer than three, Marquette failed to stretch its lead to double digits until Gardner’s free throw with 23.9 seconds remaining.

Marquette smothered the Friars in the first half, holding them to 5-for-28 shooting, or 17.9 percent, and heading into intermission with a 31-14 lead. Providence shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc and 3-for-7 from the free throw line.

Marquette deployed a unique starting lineup as Buzz Williams gave freshmen JaJuan Johnson and Deonte Burton their first career starts alongside Derrick Wilson, Jamil Wilson and Chris Otule.

The minutes-by-committee approach paid off, as no Marquette player scored over six points in the first half, but nine different players scored. Cotton led all scorers with nine points at the break, but was one of just three Providence players to score in the first twenty minutes.

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