Saturday afternoon Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars weren’t the only thing Marquette had to fend off.
A fruit bat somehow entered the BMO Harris Bradley Center and after supposedly flying around the upper levels at the start of the second half, swooped down and flew around the court, halting play on four different occasions midway through the second half.
When play resumed, Marquette was able to finish off the Friars 81-71 to move to 5-1 in Big East play. Davante Gardner scored 13 points and Junior Cadougan added 15 of his own in the win.
A spirited first half from the Marquette – which hadn’t won a home game by double-digits since Dec. 15, which included two overtime games – was complemented by a 14-6 run to open the second half that pushed the lead to as many as 16 points.
The Friars (10-10, 2-6) would battle their way back, pulling within seven after Bryce Cotton (19 points, 4 assists) and Kris Dunn (10 points) sparked a 9-0 run.
In the middle of Providence’s push, however, the bat – which had its own Twitter account within minutes of the second sighting –caused panic among those in attendance, from players to coaches to referees to fans. Marquette players at one point ran onto the court and began throwing towels into the air to knock the bat down, and fans joined in with their coats. Even Cooley chased down the bat. Finally, the Bradley Center lights were turned off in an attempt to get rid of the bat, and it did not return after.
Providence closed the gap even further, cutting the lead down to six, but Juan Anderson answered with his second 3-pointer of the contest to extend the lead back to nine, 66-57. Jamil Wilson (8 points, 3 assists) and LaDontae Henton (12 points, five rebounds) traded baskets inside five minutes and Marquette would go on to score the next four points to push the lead to 72-59, and Providence wouldn’t get within less than nine the rest of the way.
Marquette led by as many as 11 in the first half, but an 8-0 Providence narrowed the lead midway through the first half. But the Golden Eagles would answer with a 9-2 run to extend the lead back out, and a Juan Anderson (9 points, 3 steals) 3-pointer gave Marquette a 40-32 lead heading into the half.
Foul trouble plagued the Friars in the first half, as forward Kadeem Batts and guards Kris Dunn and Bryce Cotton all picked up two by halftime. Sidiki Johnson filled in for Batts and had a career-high 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in 15 minutes by intermission. Johnson would finish with 14 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Steve Taylor, seeing extended minutes after Jamil Wilson picked up his second foul in the first half, had eight points at half and Blue added eight as well, connecting on a 3-pointer for the eighth straight game.
Trent Lockett had an efficient night, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists for the second place Golden Eagles.
Marquette was without shooting guard Todd Mayo, who suffered an apparent wrist injury and was unable to play. He was suited up and on the bench with his right wrist wrapped.