James, Eagles Shine in Big East Opener

Dominic James poured in 21 points as Marquette overpowered Providence 96-67 in front of a crowd of 17,041 at the Bradley Center Thursday night.

MILWAUKEE – Dominic James poured in 21 points as Marquette overpowered Providence 96-67 in front of a crowd of 17,041 at the Bradley Center Thursday night.

James added six assists, three rebounds, and one steal and four other Marquette players finished in double figures – Lazar Hayward (17 points), Wesley Matthews (16), and Ousmane Barro (14) – to lead the Golden Eagles to their first victory of the season in Big East Conference play.

"Dominic played an outstanding game," said Head Coach Tom Crean. "He had 21 points, six assists and no turnovers in 28 minutes (which was fantastic)."

Marquette (11-1, 1-0) outplayed the Friars (9-4, 0-1) for most of the game. The Golden Eagles forced Providence into 17 turnovers and dominated both the offensive and defensive glass by out-rebounding the visitors 37-23. Marquette also had 22 assists on their 32 baskets and shot 53.3% from the field for the game.

The Golden Eagles reached their largest lead of the game, 33 points, at 1:55 in the second half when Maurice Acker converted a steal into a layup to make the score 91-58. Acker finished with eight points, two rebounds, and a steal.

Despite the sizable margin of victory, things weren't easy for the Golden Eagles at first. Just 53 seconds into the game (19:07 mark), Marquette found itself in a timeout (called by Coach Crean) down 7-0 to the visiting Friars. Nevertheless, the Golden Eagles responded with an 18-2 run to get back into the game and take a nine point lead, 18-9, at the 12:18 mark of the first half. The lead however, did not last for long as the Friars went on 14-2 run fueled by Jamine Peterson's six points to take a 23-20 lead at 7:44 mark.

The Providence run however was answered by James. Dominic scored seven points in the final six and a half minutes of the first half including a three pointer that tied the game 23-23 and a lay up that put Marquette ahead for good (25-23) at the 5:26 mark. The Golden Eagles closed the half on a 18-9 run to take a 41-32 advantage into intermission. James and Barro led the way with 12 points apiece and Hayward was not far behind with nine.

"I think to be down seven-zero and for the guys to come back, no panic and to just keep grinding out the game is a real good sign of maturity," said Coach Crean.

The second half saw Marquette extend its advantage with the use of the three point shot. The Golden Eagles shot 50% (7-14) from behind the arc following intermission which helped them jump out to a 63-37 lead on the heels of 19-5 run at the 13:56 mark. From there on out the Marquette lead did not dwindle below 20 points.

One of the most extraordinary plays of the night came at the 3:34 mark of the second half when Lawrence Blackledge reached over a Friar to tip-slam a Matthews miss. Blackledge compiled his best numbers of the season as he tallied seven points and three rebounds in only four minutes of play.

Barro was another Golden Eagle to compile a season-best performance. Ousmane not only had a season high 14 points but also pulled down nine rebounds and had four blocks. Jerel McNeal's effort was also noteworthy as he finished with a season high nine assists to go along with four points and three steals despite feeling ill for most of the day. McNeal was involved in the assessment of a double technical with Providence forward Geoff McDermott. The two were t'd up for jawing after a loose ball tie up in the second half.

"I was really proud of our whole team's effort," said Crean. "I think the one that surprised me the most, with how well he played considering he is dealing with a little bit of the flu right now, was Jerel. He never forced things and he ended up with nine assists and that's excellent."

The Friars were lead by sophomore guard Brian McKenzie who scored 21 points and had six rebounds.

Marquette returns to action Sunday at 1p.m. CST to face Bob Huggins' West Virginia Mountaineers in Morganstown, West Virginia.


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