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Providence boosts NCAA Tournament cause with win over Marquette

The Friars scored an absolutely huge win over the Golden Eagles.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars made the most of their opportunity on Saturday. Thanks to deft shooting from all over the floor, the Friars picked up a major 84-72 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles.

The victory is Providence’s fifth in their last seven games, as they’ve propped themselves up to 9-6 in Big East play with three games to go. They currently sit in sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings. And to their credit, they hold wins over both the Seton Hall Pirates and Creighton Bluejays, the top two teams in the conference.

PC and MU traded blows in the early rounds of the game. Luwane Pipkins dropped a 3-pointer in to give his team a 7-4 lead. From there, Providence went on a 14-4 run, that Pipkins 3-ball included, over the next couple of minutes. A.J. Reeves and Maliek White added 3-pointers of their own, the latter hitting two on back-to-back possessions. Kalif Young added three points of his own the hard way, getting a dunk and a free throw following Pipkins’ 3-ball.

After Howard hit a 3-pointer, Nate Watson answered with a dunk and Pipkins got on the board again with a layup. Just like that, the lead went up to 12 points, and several minutes later, it got up to as large as 14 points after a sequence that saw David Duke hit a jumper and Reeves put in a 3-pointer. The Friars would lead by as many as 17 points in the first half, as they never even allowed Marquette to hold a lead once. It was only so much as tied, as Providence was in complete control.

Although Marquette outscored Providence 14-9 from the outset of the second half, they couldn’t quite make a significant dent. They got to within nine, but right away, the lead was sent back into double digits. Young dropped in a layup on that ensuing possession, following a layup and free throw from Greg Elliott. Duke would hit a jumper and Young laid one in again to push the lead up to 15. And then, several moments later, a 9-0 run swelled PC’s lead all the way up to 21 points. This would be the largest lead they’d hold all game, and of course was iced all the way down to 12 by game’s end.

Leading the charge for Providence was Pipkins, who erupted for 24 points on just 9-of-14 from the floor. Pipkins was joined in double figures by Duke (15), Reeves (11), White (10), Young (10) and Alpha Diallo (10). Diallo scored all 10 of his points in the second half, as he was integral in the Friars’ ability to keep themselves out in front. Watson scored just four points in 16 minutes, but had five boards and an assist as well. Greg Gantt and Emmitt Holt each had three minutes of action with no points scored.

Markus Howard splashed in 38 points in the loss, going 10-for-25 from the floor and 15-for-17 from the free throw line. Only Greg Elliott was able to join him in double figures, as Elliott scored 10 points on 3-for-6 from the floor. Koby McEwen and Jamal Cain each put up seven, while Theo John scored six. Sacar Anim and Jayce Johnson chipped in two points, while Symir Torrence and Brendan Bailey left the game with goose eggs.

Providence absolutely upped their profile with this win over Marquette. The Friars have had no shortage of quality wins lately and a W like this over a good Golden Eagles squad will only increase their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. PC has another chance at getting a win over a quality team next time around, as they’ll play the Villanova Wildcats next Saturday.

Marquette, meanwhile, will look to erase this ongoing three-game losing streak next time around when they face the Georgetown Hoyas.