No. 19 Marquette can’t stop Providence in third-straight loss

After No. 19 Marquette’s offense failed it in a home loss to No. 15 Creighton Tuesday, its defense let it down against Providence. The Friars hit over half their shots, and 40 percent from three-point land, in an 84-72 victory Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.

Providence (16-12, 9-6 BIG EAST) is likely headed to the Top 25 after winning its third-straight game in reasonably dominant fashion. The Friars never trailed, taking a 19-8 lead early in the proceedings after a 15-4 run that included two Maliek White threes. Providence hit eight of its final 10 shots in the first half to go into halftime up, 43-26, finishing the first 20 minutes nearly 55 percent from the field on 17-of-31 shooting. Luwane Pipkins led the first-half charge for the Friars, scoring 17 of his PC-leading 24 points in the opening period.

Markus Howard tried to carry Marquette (17-9, 7-7) after halftime, but his 26 second-half points and 38 overall wouldn’t bring MU any closer than nine. After a Greg Elliott and-one with 11:21 remaining capped a 5-0 run to make it 52-43, Marquette allowed Providence to answer with a 6-0 run of its own and the Friars never looked back.

Howard ended up making half of Marquette’s shots while taking over half its attempts, going 10-for-25 overall and nearly matching MU’s 41 percent shooting as a team. Eighteen turnovers didn’t help Marquette, however, with Koby McEwen committing five and Howard four, leading to several Providence baskets in transition. A second half littered with fouls also didn’t help MU find a rhythm, as the two teams combined to commit 31 fouls and shoot 46 free-throws in a choppy final 20 minutes.

Six Friars scored in double-figures, while Marquette’s secondary options never gained traction. Sacar Anim scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting and Brendan Bailey was a near non-factor, going scoreless and taking just two shots. Elliott was Marquette’s second-leading scorer, getting 10 points off the bench.

Providence moves into fourth place in the BIG EAST with the victory, while Marquette fell back into a tie with Butler for fifth. While many are of the belief the BIG EAST may send anywhere between five and eight teams to the NCAA tournament, MU now has just four regular-season games and the BIG EAST Tournament left to build its tournament resume, though three of the scheduled tilts are against teams beneath them in the conference standings. The first of those games will be against Georgetown at 7:30 Wednesday in Milwaukee.

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