Golden Eagles Top Providence, 81-71
Jan. 26, 2013
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Vander Blue scored 13 points and played suffocating defense on the Big East's leading scorer to lead Marquette to an 81-71 victory over Providence Saturday in a game delayed several times because of a dive-bombing bat.
Bryce Cotton, who came in averaging 21.9 points per game, led Providence (10-10, 2-6) with 19 hard-earned points. He attempted just nine shots and made five.
The game included several delays in the second half due to a bat circling the arena -- and occasionally swooping to the floor, sending coaches, players and referees scrambling.
Marquette was coming off a 63-61 overtime loss to Cincinnati last Saturday, and four of its first five conference games went to overtime or came down to the last possession.
Saturday's game was not that close. Marquette never trailed and used an early 13-2 run to go up 19-8. The Golden Eagles led 40-32 at halftime, and used a 9-1 run early in the second half to go by 54-38 and put the game away.
Providence got no closer than six points the rest of the way, and Marquette shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) in the second half.
Cotton had scored 20 or more points in five straight. Blue led the defensive effort against him, and Cotton didn't attempt his first field goal until more than 12 minutes into the game. His first two points, on free throws, didn't come until the 9:18 mark. By then, Marquette led 21-11.
Sidiki Johnson kept Providence in it early. The 6-foot-10 sophomore center, playing in his 11th game with Providence after transferring from Arizona and sitting out the first nine games of the season, had 11 points in the first half off the bench, already a career high. He finished with 14.
Marquette outscored Providence 44-24 in the paint and had 16 fast-break points to Providence's four, as the Golden Eagles extended their home winning streak to 20, the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. Marquette has won nine straight over Providence and last lost to the Friars on Jan. 4, 2007.
The bat first appeared with about 11 minutes left, as it began flying near the court and circling over the crowd. At several points, it swooped near the court, sending referees and players scrambling -- while the original ``Batman'' theme played on the loudspeaker.
The game resumed following an initial 4-minute delay, but play was stopped again seconds later as the bat nearly flew into the side of Johnson's head, sending him to the court.
The bat continued to circle the court for the next few minutes. At one point, Providence coach Ed Cooley menacingly held up his clipboard waiting to swat it out of the air, and Marquette's Jamil Wilson threw a towel in the air trying to trap it.
The bat appeared several more times during the game. With 8:52 left, it flew toward a group of players near the Marquette bench, and they jumped out of the way. Then, to cheers from the crowd, players and coaches, game personnel tried throwing towels at it to bring it down, but to no avail.
With 7:36 left, arena officials turned off the lights to try and ``get rid of the bat,'' public address announcer Bob Brainerd told the crowd. The lights stayed out for several minutes, and hundreds in the crowd waved their lit mobile phones in air, like a concert, as Whitney Houston's ``I Will Always Love You'' played over the sound system. The bat did not return.