The Marquette men’s basketball team defeated Providence 81-71 Saturday, but its toughest challenge didn’t come from the Friars.
That distinction belongs to a bat that flew down out of the Bradley Center rafters midway through the second half and caused three lengthy delays.
“That actually was pretty funny,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “That was really comical. I think the officials were more afraid than anybody.”
The bat arrived on the scene with a little more than 11 minutes remaining, right when Marquette looked to be putting the game away. Davante Gardner’s free throws put the Golden Eagles up 58-42, but the bat’s presence rattled the team.
“I thought it was kind of funny for a minute, and I thought our kids handled it like kids initially,” coach Buzz Williams said. “They went on a 6-0, I called timeout, and then I thought we kind of got back, a little bit, in a groove. But I don’t think we ever got back to where we were.”
With 7:36 remaining, Bradley Center staff turned the lights out in the arena to get the bat to go away. The bat receded into a crevice and never returned to play. By that time, Providence launched an 11-3 run to cut the Marquette lead to eight.
“To be honest, that was a once in a lifetime experience,” Trent Lockett said. “It was almost frustrating because we felt like we had some momentum and then every time we got a play going our way, that dang bat came back.”
However, after the lights came back on, Marquette (14-4, 5-1) found its second wind and finished off the Friars (10-10, 2-6) for its most-convincing win of the Big East season.
“In a league such as this … the separation is in your preparation,” Williams said. “That preparation is not exclusive to a scouting report. It’s all of it. It’s your preparation emotionally, your preparation physically, your preparation mentally. How you absorb whatever happened yesterday, good or bad, and progress to the next day is key.”
Junior Cadougan led a balanced scoring attack (seven players scored at least eight points) with 15 points. Gardner, Lockett and Vander Blue each chipped in 13 points of their own. Lockett also led Marquette in assists (four) and rebounding (six) in Saturday’s game, but Williams says his contribution should be measured outside the stat sheet.
“Trent’s value to our team doesn’t always show in his stats,” Williams said. “He just makes winning play after winning play. He’s taken more charges than any player on our team. He’s doing an unbelievable job from a rebound perspective.”
Even so, Saturday was one of Lockett’s best statistical outputs for Marquette this season. Lockett had been under serious scrutiny for his misguided aggressiveness, especially since expectations for him were so high after his solid three-year career at Arizona State. His ability to rebound Marquette misses helped his stock with Marquette fans on Saturday.
“I always try to attack the glass,” Lockett said. “They kind of lost me a couple of times on the offensive end, so I was fortunate enough to get some put-backs.”
This Golden Eagles team faced all kinds of adversity in 2012-13, but the bat situation provided a whole new distraction. As Williams emphasized, however, winning is always the most important part of basketball.
“It was kind of funny to begin with, but then it was like ‘Damn the bat, we have to win,’” Williams said. “There’s going to be a winner and a loser in the record book, and they aren’t going to put an asterisk saying there was a bat.”