Unranked teams beat ranked teams all the time in college basketball, but for an unranked team to beat a top-10 team on the road? That’s not quite as common.
Well, that’s exactly what Marquette did Tuesday, beating No. 8 Providence, 65-64, at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Rhode Island.
“The team came together and had a team meeting and told each other that it was time to step up,” Marquette guard Haanif Cheatham said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We had played hard together. We played before in big games. So it was time for us to wake up and understand that we could do this – and we finally did it.”
The Golden Eagles led for much of the game before falling behind 58-50 with six minutes to go. Then they scored eight straight to tie the game and, ultimately, win it. Marquette shot 22-of-43 from the field (51.2 percent) while limiting Providence to 23-of-61 (37.7 percent). Five Golden Eagles scored at least eight points, including Cheatham, who finished with a game-high 16.
Marquette entered the night having lost its previous two games to Seton Hall and Georgetown by a combined 30 points.
“We weren’t playing together (in those games),” Cheatham said. “Guys were playing selfishly. and we just decided let’s get back to our ways. Let’s get back to sharing the ball, let’s get back to having each other’s back on defense and see what we can do. Providence is a great team. They’re a real tough team to defend. As soon as we came together, we did it.”
Marquette forced 19 turnovers, including 12 steals. Henry Ellenson, a freshman forward, had 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, while junior center Luke Fischer had eight points, four rebounds, one block and one steal.
“It’s great for us,” Cheatham said of having defensive stoppers down low. “Our guards pressure the ball, but if it gets in the paint, we know they got our backs. We know we’re safe with them.”
Marquette (11-4), which hosts St. John’s (7-8) this Saturday at 2 p.m. ET, needed a win in the worst way. The Golden Eagles simply couldn’t afford to start 0-3 in the Big East.
“We really (needed this game),” Cheatham said. “We knew tonight was a big game for us. This was the make or break of our season. One we put that in our mind, we came together and fought hard.”