PROVIDENCE — By halftime, the Providence College Friars had achieved one of their objectives in keeping Marquette’s 3-point shooting superstar Markus Howard under control, limiting the Golden Eagle to a pair of trifectas and 10 points.
All Howard did thereafter was hit nine 3-point field goals and pour in 42 points as Marquette won a doozy of a Big East battle, 95-90 in overtime Wednesday.
Marquette’s guards Howard (20.5 ppg) and Andrew Rowsey (22.4 ppg) and sophomore guard Sam Hauser (14.4 ppg) are the best 3-point shooters in the Big East, as the Golden Eagles have attempted (437) and made (180), the most in the conference.
While Marquette may have been No. 4 in the Big East in scoring offense (82.6), the Golden Eagles rank dead last in the conference in scoring defense (74.1) and field-goal defense (.464)
“They’re a unique pair,” PC coach Ed Cooley said of Howard and Rowsey. “They shoot the ball as well as anybody, they shoot it (3-pointers) at a high clip, they’re very efficient,” as the Friars’ 3-point shooting defense (.303) was the third-best in the Big East entering the contest.
Rowsey finished with 16 points, while Marquette was outrebounded 39-28 and surrendered 44 points in the paint to PC.
Cartwright finished with 29 points for PC (10-6), while Jackson (19 points, seven rebounds) and Alpha Diallo (16 points, eight rebounds) also played key roles.
The Friars shot 57 percent from the floor in the second half (12-for-21) and outscored Marquette 32-14 at the free throw line. However, PC went scoreless from the floor for better than the final two minutes of overtime.
Howard scored the first eight points of the second half for the Golden Eagles. He put Marquette up 90-84 with a 3-pointer, but a basket by Cartwright and two free throws from Jackson cut the gap to 90-88 with two minutes left.
The Friars still by trailed 92-90, but Hauser nailed a 3-pointer from the left side to seal the win in the waning seconds.
The Friars trailed 67-59 with eight minutes left, but went on an electric 20-4 run to go in front with four minutes left.
Howard hit on 17 of 29 shots from the floor, including 11-for-19 from 3-point range, with the Warriors hitting six of seven shots from the floor in overtime.
There were eight ties and six exchanges of lead during the first half, and PC had a one-point (38-37) edge after leading by as many as six points, but never trailing by any more than four points.
While PC limited Marquette to just two 3-point shots made (on eight attempts), it was a rather ragged initial 20 minutes, with the Big East teams combining for 20 fouls, 24 free throws and 14 turnovers. Other than Cartwright (15 points on 6-for-8 shooting), the rest of the Friars (minus a flu-ridden Bullock) were a combined 8-for-19.
“Our guys have to play with a bit more urgency,” Cooley said of allowing 70 points or more for the 11th time. “Defensively, we’re gambling, and better teams are making us pay for it. Our transition defense has to improve, not so much positionally, but with urgency. We have to take away easy baskets — we’re giving up too many easy baskets.”
The Friars are 7-2 at home thus far, but “you look around the Big East and in college basketball, and you have to win at home,” Cooley added. “If you’re going to be a tournament team, you’ve got to find a way to win home games and steal five or six on the road in our league.”
“We’ve got to keep playing, it’s a tough league,” Rodney Bullock, the Friars’ senior forward and leading scorer said. “We have to execute to the best of our ability, to stay with the process.
“We’ve been playing hard, but the ball hasn’t been falling through the hole — it seems like there’s a lid on the basket. We hit a couple of bumps (losses to URI, UMass, Houston, Creighton) on the road.”
Marquette has a 17-8 edge in the series with PC, dating back to 1963, and a 15-5 mark since joining the Big East.
With the second semester of academic classes another week away, “During semester break is when most teams generally improve,” Cooley added. “It’s nothing but basketball, film and workouts. You see a lot of teams make a big jump. Traditionally, this has been when we’ve improved.”