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Wade honored as Marquette continues Big East run

Feb 4, 2007 - 1:46 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Marquette honored Dwyane Wade on Saturday in a tribute to one of the most successful teams in the school's recent history. Jerel McNeal and Dan Fitzgerald ensured the NBA star's homecoming was a happy one.

Wade's No. 3 jersey was raised to the rafters at halftime while McNeal and Fitzgerald did their best to make him proud in the Golden Eagles' 69-62 Big East conference victory over Providence.

Bursting onto the national scene by leading Marquette to the 2003 Final Four, Wade has gone on to even greater heights and now has his jersey in the rafters of the Bradley Center.

"It was nice that I got a chance to see the end of it. You can never do justice to that in a pre-game," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "I am just proud of him. He is such a great person."

An NBA champion, Finals MVP and the most recent Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Wade watched Marquette (20-4, 7-2 Big East) run its conference winning streak to seven games as it avenged an earlier setback.

"It was a really emotional day for him and we didn't want to mess that up by losing," McNeal said. "He means so much to this university and this program. He makes everyone on the court want to play hard."

One of the Golden Eagles' two conference losses was a 74-59 road defeat to the Friars on January 4th. Marquette was without McNeal in that one due to a concussion and the sophomore guard made his presence felt this time.

"He is such an energy source and creates so many things when he is in the game," Crean said. "He is quick and can shoot the ball at a high level."

McNeal scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with five assists. Fitzgerald added 14 points and made 4-of-6 3-pointers, including one with 1:52 to play that made it 65-58 and seemed to take the air out of the Friars' comeback hopes.

"My teammates have been telling me that I am not shooting enough," Fitzgerald said. "When they really press on it, that means you have to do it."

The dozen rebounds tied McNeal's career high and helped the Golden Eagles to a 42-29 advantage on the boards. Marquette is 14-0 when outrebounding its opponent this season.

"We keep saying it to our team and they believe it. Any Big East win is great," Crean said. "For us to get the rebounding margin today is such a big thing. I thought our guys displayed a very workmanlike effort on defense. The most important thing is that our guys played good pressure defense.

Sharaud Curry had 17 points and Herbert Hill 14 for Providence (14-7, 4-4).

"We came into the game knowing we had to play very well to win in this building as Marquette is playing very well," Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "They were playing aggressively.

"We dominated them on the boards in the first game and they did today. They were going to the glass a lot harder than we had, and you have to be able to match that, but we didn't until it was too late."