Even though Marquette guard Junior Cadougan scored a team-high 15 points and three other teammates tallied 13 apiece, none of them were the star of the Golden Eagles' 81-71 victory over Providence.
Providence coach Ed Cooley shields himself from the bat (screengrab via @BubbaProg)That honor goes to the rogue bat that flittered around the Bradley Center midway through the second half, disrupting the game and sending players, coaches and refs scrambling for cover.
Marquette held a 58-42 lead with 11:23 left when the bat first appeared. Referees halted play several times during the next few minutes as players from both teams tossed towels into the air like nets in an effort to catch the bat.
At the 7:36 mark, after Providence rallied to chop Marquette's lead to six, arena officials opted to dim the lights in hopes the bat would settle in the rafters and play could resume uninterrupted. That strategy proved effective, enabling the game to continue and the Golden Eagles to regain momentum and close out the victory.
"It was funny to begin with," Marquette coach Buzz Williams told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "But after awhile, it was, 'Damn the bat. We have to win.' There is going to be a winner and a loser. There's not going to be an asterisk that said a bat was in the building."
If Marquette was the winner on the floor, the bat was the winner in the world of social media. He now has two Twitter accounts devoted to him.
NBA fans will remember this is not the only time a bat has disrupted a basketball game. A bat at the AT&T Center sent San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings players scattering in Nov. 2009 until Manu Ginobili came to the rescue and swatted the bat away with his bare hands.
Thankfully, none of the Marquette or Providence players tried that Saturday. Ginobili needed rabies shots afterward.