Ed Cooley searching for answers as PC loses 3rd straight game
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Playing without a full deck on the road in the Big East is a dangerous way to live.
That’s the fate Ed Cooley & Co. tested the last few days as Jared Bynum continued to nurse a sore groin and could not man the point guard position. Without him, the Friars were stunned by a last second trey at Xavier and then simply worn down by a physical, aggressive Marquette team in Tuesday’s 79-69 victory.
“I can say I’m extremely, extremely disappointed in the the group in the last four minutes of this game,” coach Ed Cooley said. “It was very frustrating.”
In position down the stretch, the Friars faded while Marquette checked the box with all the little plays.
“Normally a Friar team scoring 70, 72, 73 points, normally those are wins for us,” Cooley said. “Clearly giving up 79 points is not our deal. That’s never been our deal. Normally we’re one of the better defensive teams in our league. Right now our defensive numbers are struggling and that’s on me. I have to do a better job.”
The Friars didn’t see the best of David Duke (5-of-18 FG, 17 points) and saw Nate Watson roll an ankle early on and finish with a team-high 18 points. A.J. Reeves (12 points) and Jimmy Nichols (11) also hit double figures but the Friars sorely miss Bynum on offense and clearly do not have a second pure point guard on the roster.
More importantly on this night, Marquette was the tougher team. Dawson Garcia, a McDonald’s All-American, dominated around the rim with 20 points and six rebounds. He also grabbed two late offensive rebounds, one after two missed Marquette free throws.
A three-point lead with 3:36 left turned all Marquette down the stretch. While a blatant missed goaltending call by the refs on a Duke drive didn’t help matters, the Friars couldn’t string plays together and lost for the third straight game.
PC is now 7-6 overall, 3-4 in the Big East and clearly falling off the pace. Marquette improved to 7-6 overall and 3-4 in the conference. PC will host Georgetown Saturday amidst a four games-in-five road swing. The next two road games are at Top 10 Creighton and Villanova.
The Friars could not have played much worse in the first half. It certainly did not help that Nate Watson limped off the floor with a twisted left ankle early on but some ice cold offense led the the home team shooting out to a 9-2 lead.
PC bounced back after two David Duke threes and one from A.J Reeves but before long a 17-16 deficit was the highlight of the opening 20 minutes. Marquette ripped off 15 straight points as the Friars went cold, Watson continued to receive treatment on his foot and the Golden Eagles held a commanding 34-18 lead.
The Friars hung on and hung tough but still trailed 38-29 at the half. Duke was just 2-of-9 in the half as the Friars shot 33 percent from the floor.
The second half was a different story. PC’s offense was more in synch and an early diet of Nate Watson cut Marquette’s lead to 40-35. Before long the game was played within five points for the longest stretch with a Watson scoop inside making it 53-51 with 10 minutes left.
A Noah Horchler 3-pointer made it 57-56 but Marquette spurted once again and did not lose the lead. A Justin Lewis 3-pointer gave the home team a 66-58 lead but when Greg Gantt scored inside it was just 66-64 with 3:36 left.
That left the Friars in position but for the third straight game the final few minutes would not fall PC’s way.
This time it was a lack of offensive execution, a lack of rebounding scrap and a tip of the hat to Marquette’s toughness.
Nate Watson- 18 points in 28 minutes
David Duke – 17 points, 5-of-18 shooting, 9 assists.
A.J. Reeves – 12 points, 4-of-10, 6 rebounds
Dawson Garcia – 20 points, 6 rebounds
Koby McEwen- 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
NEXT UP: Home vs. Georgetown Saturday, Noon