Marquette 88, Providence 78

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- After a quiet first half in his final home
game, senior sharpshooter Steve Novak scored 17 second-half points
as Marquette beat Providence 88-78 Saturday.

Novak hit three 3-pointers and added a jump shot in a span of
less than five minutes, propelling a 16-6 second-half run that
proved decisive for Marquette (20-9, 10-6).

Novak finished with 20 points to lead the Golden Eagles.

Coach Tom Crean pulled Novak, the school's all-time leading
3-point shooter, out of the game with 18.7 seconds remaining,
allowing fans to give him a standing ovation.

Marquette honored Novak and fellow seniors Joe Chapman and Chris
Grimm in a ceremony after the game, as the three walked to the
student section to trade high-fives with fans.

Novak set the Big East single-season record for 3-pointers made
in Wednesday's loss at Louisville, and came into Saturday's game
leading the nation in free-throw shooting percentage.

A 6-2 run early in the second half allowed Providence to draw
within 5, 44-39.

But Novak hit his first 3-pointer of the half with 14:37
remaining, spurring Marquette's decisive run.

Novak wasn't a one-man show during the run -- the Golden Eagles
got a jump shot from Jerel McNeal and a putback and free throw from
Dominic James -- but he came close.

Novak's jump shot put the Golden Eagles ahead 51-43, his second
3-pointer of the half put the Golden Eagles ahead 57-43 and his
third 3-pointer of the half put Marquette ahead 60-45 with 10
minutes remaining in the game.

After a surprisingly successful debut season in the Big East,
Marquette entered Saturday's game with slight hope of grabbing a
No. 4 seed and first-round bye in next week's conference tournament
in New York.

Providence, meanwhile, appears likely to miss the conference

Randall Hanke scored 23 to lead the Friars (12-15, 5-11), who
have lost five of their last six games. Hanke also had 15 rebounds.
Donnie McGrath added 18, and Geoff McDermott had 14 points and 16

Wesley Matthews had 18 for the Golden Eagles, and Ousmane Barro
and McNeal each had 13.

Marquette led by as many as 13 in the first half and went into
halftime with a 37-28 lead. Matthews, a freshman guard, led the
Golden Eagles with 12 first-half points.