Friars Down Columbia

After shaking off a rather sluggish start and switching out of a zone defense that was keeping Columbia in the game, the Providence Friars rode a three guard set combined with a man to man pressure defense in what ended up an 81-55 rout of Columbia at the Dunkin' Donuts Center Tuesday evening.

If the Friars intend to use their wins over Boston College and George Washington to help build a successful resume this season, taking care of business against teams that don't provide easy motivation is an absolute must. Yet, the early going of this matchup with Columbia was less than impressive.

Taking advantage of an slow starting Friar offense that lacked good motion and a Providence zone defense which allowed the Lions to run their well executed sets at a speed which they were comfortable with, Columbia actually held a one point lead in this game as late the 6:29 mark of the first half lead by Ben Nwachukwu and Patrick Foley. That would be the last of the good news for the Lions though, as a Tim Welsh's switch to man to man defense jump started the Friars on both ends of the court and sparked them to a seven point lead at halftime 32-25.

The second half was an offensive clinic for the Friars, as the offense exploded for 49 points off of turnovers and the sharp shooting of Weyinme Efejuku (18pts) and Dwain Williams (14pts). Williams, who has finally shaken off an ankle injury and an early season bug, is now showing what he can do on the floor. The freshman displayed excellent range on his three point shot and had no turnovers in 21 minutes of play. Williams also played well on the ball defense in the man to man, using his quickness to harass Columbia's point guard.

As for Efejuku, Tim Welsh was much happier with both his defense (6 steals) and shooting in this game. "I told Weyinme that he can be the best player on the court...Consistency is something we're striving for with him. We can't have Hawaii one day and Alaska the next. Tonight was Hawaii, and we're trying to keep him playing like that."

The Friars won this game in a fashion completely different fashion from the style that was successful against George Washington. While the win over the Colonials was dominated by the play of the beefy front court, the win over Columbia was game in which the guards collectively stepped up more than they have any point in the early going.

The Friars are going to have to adjust to different styles of play depending on the opponent, and their win over Columbia showed that they can be successful when they flash a different look on the hardwood.

Friar Notes: Brian McKenzie was unavailable for the game last night with the flu. Sharaud Curry made the Big East Weekly Honor Roll this week, averaging 22.5 points and shooting 51.9% from the field in wins over Boston College and George Washington. Providence next plays on Saturday at 2pm vs. in-state rival Rhode Island. It is the 117th meeting of the teams. Providence leads the series 64-52.

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