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Friars Spoil National Marquette Day with Win in Milwaukee

Any Providence College alum may remember learning about the theory of relativity in Western Civ class. For those who don’t know, it’s not an earth-shattering concept: it’s the idea that time feels like it moves faster sometimes, and slower other times. This is best described as time feeling like it drags forever while sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, and blowing by quickly when you’re talking to someone you’re potentially interested in dating.

However, for Providence basketball fans, the theory of relativity is best described as this: when the Friars are up, the game clock lasts forever and their opponent seems to play faster. When the Friars are losing, there’s no stopping the blazing-fast speeds of the game.

This best describes the two periods that the Friars played against Marquette today in Milwaukee. The game was an oversold crowd (the Bradley Center holds 18,711 fans, and 18,958 were in attendance) thanks to “Marquette Day.” One fan explained to me as “like an alumni weekend, kind of.” I don’t know what that means, but I know the Friars had a tough showing in a sea of blue and yellow fans, screaming and cheering, looking to see their Golden Eagles sweep the Friars.

Thankfully, the Friars didn’t roll over the way they did against Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles gave the Friars a run for their money, and like I said there were two points where this theory that the game went incredibly fast and incredibly slow took place. Both came at the end of each half.

During the end of the first half the Friars found themselves in a familiar spot: down. They had hit back and forth with the Golden Eagles all half, and despite being up with 6 minutes to go, the Friars lost the lead and trailed by five with 3:43 left in the first half.

Every possession for Marquette felt like it took huge chunks off the clock. Meanwhile, every possession for Providence seemed like it barely moved the game clock, giving Marquette all the time they needed to secure a halftime lead. It’s an odd thing to say, because the Friars weren’t down by much and Jalen Lindsey’s 3 with 1:18 to go tied it before Marquette went 1-1 from the free throw line to take a one point lead at the half. Still, the Friars were down, and losing time faster than they should have been. Was it the turnovers? The lack of ability to create offense? Was time really moving faster with Marquette leading, or was it just my imagination from the very last row of seats in section 423?

Compare that to the end of the second half. The roles are reversed now. The Friars are leading, and had been since the 12 minute mark. At one point they even lead by 11. And yet, time seemed to slow down and give the Golden Eagles every single opportunity in the book to rally and come back.

Sure enough, they were able to pull within 5 with 2:41 left in the game, and then a layup by Theo John with 1:31 left brought the Golden Eagles within 2. A whole minute and then some passed between these possessions, but to me it went at a snail’s pace. Marquette was getting every opportunity to steal a road victory (and revenge from an OT loss earlier in the season) from the Friars.

Time, which had flown while Providence was struggling at the end of the first half, was now crawling with each possession as the Friars tried to escape Milwaukee and get back home from their long, tough road trip.

Last year, the Friars came to Marquette and escaped with a one point victory. That final possession against the Golden Eagles was one of the longest feelings of my life. During those final seconds, with Providence up one, Marquette actually had two opportunities and missed both (both misses coming from Katin Reinhardt), giving Providence their first ever road win over Marquette.

This year, the final seconds were almost polar opposite, and yet I expected them to go as slowly and distinctly as last year. Providence’s Maliek White was at the free throw line with six seconds left on the game clock. Providence was up two. If Marquette was able to get even a shot up, they could tie or win, depending on what White did.

White missed both. Time stood still. I prepared mentally for the worst. Marquette chased down the rebound and looked to get in the hands of Markus Howard, the Friar Slayer. They did so. Not even a second half gone by but every single movement felt like it took an eternity. It was like watching a car crash.

And then, in an almost-hilarious anti-climatic fashion, Howard turned the ball over. Rather than go out of bounds, Providence recovered it right at the edge of staying in bounds. Before anyone realized the game clock hadn’t stopped, the game was over. Winner: Providence Friars, 77-75. I had almost started laughing at how absurdly fast the game had ended. A long, hard fought game with so many emotional highs and lows, so much fast action and slow moving moments, just to suddenly end – is poetic brilliance the right phrase? Probably not, but I’m using it.

Friars pick up a big road win at Marquette and improve to 6-4 in league play. Return to the Dunk on Tuesday vs Georgetown.

This Friar team is not Big East Elite. Then again, Big East Elite is a tough thing to come by in this conference. An 0-11 Big East team not named DePaul beat national favorite Duke earlier today, so winning in this conference is no easy task. That said, I fully endorse that this team is Big East capable, and that makes them more than capable come March. They just need to make sure they get there in time, because all this relativity stuff is making me lose years off my life.