New Jersey got defensive early behind Dominic Cheek (3 steals in the first half) and shot out to a 10-0 lead in the junior game of the Eddie Griffin Challenge. It never looked back and remained in control for the 84-78 victory.
As solid as Jackson and Crosgile were, the play of Greg Echenique down the stretch may have been the difference. The 6-9 center scored 11 points and pulled down 11 boards as the best true post player in the contest exerted his will inside as you might expect. In the closing minutes, the St. Benedict's prospect took care of business.
Jersey's highest-rated players, Cheek and Dexter Strickland had pedestrian evenings by their lofty standards but each contributed. The 6-foot-6 Cheek's body is beginning to fill out and he's more active at both ends, coming up with key steals and challenging for boards. Strickland closed the game strong and was unselfish as he looked to set up others first.
On the Philly side, Maalik Wayns scored 14 points and was the team MVP. Aside from the stats, what he did as well as anyone in the game was compete. In a Sean Singletary-like manner, Wayns loves contact and isn't afraid to mix it up anywhere.
We were also drawn to the play of Jesse Morgan and Khalil Murphy. Morgan sees the floor extremely well; Murphy is a long, athletic looking small forward who made a few mid-range shots.
Justin Crosgile was at St. Joe's for Midnight Madness and they are presently coming harder than anyone. … Dominic Cheek again expressed that North Carolina led but reiterated that a decision would not be made anytime soon. …
Austin Johnson, a power forward, is going to be a good collegian inside if he finds the right fit. He's got great hands and instincts in the paint. … Murphy could be a player who has a breakout junior year at Life Center. … Dalton Pepper had a lot of athletic guards checking him and never got into rhythm on offense. … Lamar Patterson heated up in the second half for Philly. …
NEW JERSEY – Paris Bennett 3, Lance Brown 3, Dominic Cheek 6, Justin Crosgile 18, Greg Echenique 11, Tamir Jackson 14, Austin Johnson 8, Khalil Murphy 8, Dexter Strickland 13.
PHILADELPHIA – Shannon Givins 3, Oscar Griffin 6, Nurideen Lindsey 12, Jesse Morgan 2, Aaric Murray 7, Dalton Pepper 7, Lamar Patterson 14, Lijah Thompson 7, Maalik Wayns 14, Henry Smith 6.