No. 14 Marquette rallies to beat Providence 91-82
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)—Marquette coach Buzz Williams threatened to pull his players off the court when Jeff Xavier’s brother came out of the stands to confront the referees after the Providence guard was knocked from the game with his eye swollen shut.
It was a good thing they stayed.
No. 14 Marquette rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half and beat Providence 91-82 on Saturday night in a game interrupted when Jonathan Xavier came out of the stands to protest the non-call. Lawrence Lepore, the executive director of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, said Xavier was taken to the Providence police station and will be charged with disorderly conduct.
“I told the officials, ‘We’ll leave, because that’s extremely dangerous,”’ Williams said. “I saw the guy coming out of the stands. Forget the game; I’m going to protect the guys. I’m going to protect those guys no matter what.”
Lazar Hayward scored 25 points, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:10 left, and Jerel McNeal also scored 25 as Marquette (16-2, 5-0 Big East) extended the best start of its tenure in the Big East. The Golden Eagles last started 5-0 in the conference when they were a member of the Great Midwest in 1992-93.
Marshon Brooks scored 21 and Geoff McDermott had 15 points and 17 rebounds as Providence (11-6, 3-2) lost its second straight game to a ranked team, falling to No. 13 Georgetown last Saturday. The Friars played most of the second half without Jeff Xavier, who was scraped in the face when he drove to the basket with 17:13 left in the game.
Friars coach Keno Davis said Xavier’s right eye was completely closed. “It looked like he had been in a fight,” Davis said, adding that he didn’t think it looked intentional.
No foul was called, but when the players were lined up for a free throw at the next whistle Jonathan Xavier came down from the stands and jumped over the Providence bench before going chest-to-chest with one of the referees. Security hustled him off, and he left without much of a fight, waiting peacefully under the stands with a guard while police were summoned.
“What you’re hopeful when you see something like that is the players don’t get hurt,” Davis said. “Any time any fan or anyone takes the court, that’s not where they’re supposed to be. Whether it’s a relative or not, we’ve got to make sure we keep the fans off the court.”
McNeal said he didn’t feel threatened by Xavier’s brother.
“I just saw him come out onto the floor,” he said. “And I thought about it and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t think he’s supposed to be out here.”’
Providence spokesman Arthur Parks said Jeff Xavier was unavailable for comment. Big East spokesman John Paquette declined to comment.
McDermott’s first basket of the second half gave him 1,000 points for his career—the 40th player in school history and third on the team to reach the mark, with Xavier and Weyinmi Efejuku. But McDermott also missed six of nine free throws, and PC went 14-for-23 from the line.
“I can’t talk about the free throws without saying, ‘Hey, he gave us everything he had,”’ Davis said. “How can you ask for anything more than that?”
McDermott scored eight points with 11 rebounds in the first half, helping Providence open a 28-17 lead with 8:39 left. But the Golden Eagles scored the next three baskets and trailed 45-40 at the break.
Providence opened a 59-46 advantage and still led by 12 with 13:11 left when Dominic James hit a 3-pointer and then stole the ball to set up Hayward’s dunk that made it 63-56. Hayward hit another 3 to cut a five-point deficit to 74-72, then stole the ball to set up James’ dunk for the basket that tied it 76-all.
It was tied at 79 when McNeal hit a 3, Brooks missed from beyond the arc and Matthews, who scored 22, hit a layup on the fast break to start a three-point play. McNeal hit three more free throws to make it a nine-point game, and Matthews’ layup gave Marquette an 11-point lead.