Friars Blow Out the Colonials

The Providence College Friars took care of business as they withstood a slew of George Washington first half three pointers, and blew the Colonials out of the building in the second half, on their way to a convincing 86-67 victory, improving to 3-1.

This game had a déjà vu feel throughout the first half and midway through the second half. An opponent comes into the Dunkin' Donuts Center, shoots the lights out from the perimeter, and benefits from some shaky ref calls. The Friars hang close, but by midway through the second stanza, the visitors begin to open up a lead, and you just know that PC is going to fall short. Only this time, it didn't happen.

It didn't happen for a number of reasons. First, this isn't your ‘same old, same old' edition of the Friars. This team has guts, tenacity, and a grittiness (Brown game notwithstanding) that's been missing from recent past editions. But there's more. When George Washington came out and nailed 9 of 13 three pointers in the first half to take a 41-40 halftime lead, past Friar squads might have folded. PC was running its offense just fine, but defensively it seemed that PC had no answers for GW's guard-oriented offense. Let's look at some of the reasons why PC was able to turn a potential defeat into a blowout win.

Halftime Adjustments
Tim Welsh has been maligned by some for not making adjustments… the GW game won't be one of those times. The Friars came out in a 2-3 zone, and GW attacked the gaps, finding open spaces on the perimeter to launch their three pointers. "You can just abandon the zone when they make threes," said Welsh. "They came out and hit some quick threes, so I switched to man, and then they hit a three on their first possession against our man. So I went back to the zone. You just have to make adjustments to the zone. Plus, we rebound so much better in the zone."

What Providence did in the second half was switch to a 3-2, with Weyinmi Efejuku or Jamal Barney up top to disrupt the perimeter passing of GW's guards and limit the open looks. In addition, Efejuku was ineffective on defense, so Welsh sacrificed his offense and went with Barney for major minutes in the second half.

Another adjustment was made inside. In the first half, GW was effective in getting the ball to the foul line and then passing down low to the baseline for layups. PC took that away in the second half. "We made an adjustment at halftime to take away the foul line to baseline pass," said Welsh. "We were jumping out at the guy with the ball at the foul line and that was leaving a player open at the baseline. I told them to wait two beats when they caught the ball at the foul line and give them the jump shot and make them beat us with the jump shot."

The Beef Brothers
The Friars fell behind 57-51 with 12:27 left… and Jonathan Kale called for the ball and hit a fallaway layup. With Ray Hall at the scorer's table ready to replace Kale, Welsh switched the sub to Hall for Charlie Burch. And the game changed. Four straight layups by Hall within a span of 1:25 had the Friars up 61-57, and they never looked back.

"Ray changed the dynamic of the game," commented Welsh. "He has a high basketball IQ, has soft hands, has a good feel of where to go on the floor, and passes real well. It wasn't just his offense, which got the crowd going, it was also his defense and the fact that he takes up a lot of room. I think we wore them down with our girth."

The Colonials had two springy 6'9 frontcourt players but they were no match for PC inside. Geoff McDermott, Hall, Kale and Hill repeatedly muscled for offensive rebounds and putbacks. GW is a guard-oriented team, and the Colonials were crippled when star point guard Carl Elliott picked up his fourth foul and later fouled out. "Getting Elliott out cuts the head off," said Welsh. "When Elliott went out, that was the key point. We held them to 26 points in the second half, but they scored only fifteen points in the last fifteen minutes."

And that's how you turn potential losses into blowout wins.

The Friars crushed GW on the boards, by a 51-27 margin, and had a whopping 26 offensive rebounds… PC had 19 turnovers, but only six in the second half – a remarkable number, considering the pressure that GW's guards threw at the Friars. Sharaud Curry and McDermott did the bulk of the ball-handling, and Curry's game (27 points) was exceptional, considering that GW threw two men at him for the entire game… Herb Hill had 20 points and 20 rebounds after a slow start. Hill became PC's first 20-20 man since Marvin Barnes last turned the trick against Brown on March 4, 1974… Erron Maxey was the last Friar with 20 rebounds in a game, snagging 21 against Boston College on February 26, 2000… PC's win snapped GW's 22 game regular season win streak – longest in the nation… The win was Tim Welsh's 200th as a college coach, which includes 70 wins at Iona… Ryan Gomes was in the house. He and Hill are very close, and he had to enjoy Hill's 20-20.

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