Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Providence Turns In On Following Lackluster Half

By Zach Smart

Providence, R.I.—Talk about a tale of two halves.

Providence stamped an 85-71 victory over bottom-tier Jacksonville State Wednesday night, resuscitating itself after a nightmarish first half, outscoring the visitors 53-28 after intermission.

Six of the eight Friars that played scored in double-figures, stepping up during an off-night from top scorer Marshon Brooks. Brooks scored just four points on 1-of-5 shooting, but Weyinmi Efejuku gave PC a lights-out performance, dropping 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

Geoff McDermott, the Friars' most versatile player, scored 13 points, snared 11 boards, and dished out five dimes in an all-out performance.

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The senior played like a senior, scoring during critical transitions. He got free for a dunk that sliced the deficit to two and then whipped a pass to Brian McKenzie, who knocked down a jumper that tied it up.

McKenzie’s layup with 13:39 to play provided the go-ahead basket for the Friars, who copped a 51-49 lead they wouldn’t squander.

Randall Hanke also turned in one of his best performances of the season, scoring 11 points in 19 minutes of burn. When PC gets quality minutes inside from Hanke their college basketball odds of winning increase greatly.

The Friars trailed, 43-32, at the half. It was an ugly 20 minutes of basketball for PC, one that brought back disturbing memories of opening night.

Grant Maxey pumped life into Jacksonville State’s early upset bid, hitting his first four shots as Jacksonville State took a 30-22 lead.

J-State came out firing, shooting the rock at a scintillating 14-for-19 clip. Providence, which kick-started the season with an embarrassing upset loss to Northeastern (a loss which prompted PC fans to boo Keno Davis) looked lackadaisical as ever.

The Friar faithful showed similar dismay throughout the half, as Jackson State continued to shoot the Friars out of their groove.

Weyinmi Efejuku soared in for a layup that cut it to 32-31, but a jumper from Phillip Williams made it 34-31 with 3:12 remaining in the first half.

JSU ended the first half on momentum-rolling power surge, reeling off an 8-0 run that featured a three from De’Suan Dixon.

The fireworks continued as Jackson State scored five points in the final 40 seconds, and the city’s Big East team looked like more like Division-III Johnson and Wales University.

The Friars’ failed to identify the towering Hanke, a senior who’s showed signs that he could evolve into a scoring threat this season. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound center attempted just two shots and couldn’t keep Jackson State out of the paint. In the second half, he was a different player. He capitalized on his opportunities, hitting three crucial shots and sinking all of his free throws.

The frustration compounded in the first. The fans were paralyzed with bewilderment. The 6-3 Friars were making a 1-8 team look like title contenders with the blazing-hot touch of King Midas. JSU hit 14 of their first 20 shots.

Then, the Friars snapped out of it in the second half. Re-writing the script, they played a cohesive and harmonious brand of ball, spearheaded by McDermott and Efejuki.

Senior Jeff Xavier, the Pawtucket, R.I.-bred perimeter sniper, paced the Friars with 15 points.

Darrion Griffin led Jackson State with 20 points. Jeremy Caldwell chipped in with 15, and Maxey added a dozen.



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