Friars Shear The Rams

Four years of frustration melted away with an onslaught of made baskets, big time rebounding and total domination in the paint, as Providence College tore through the Rhode Island Rams, 95-66, before an electric crowd of 10,800.

Before the game began, even the casual PC fan knew a couple of important points regarding any game with URI. Number one, you have to match the Rams' intensity. Despite what URI fans will tell you, this is the biggest game of the year for URI, and the players always seem to come into the game especially pumped up. In this game, PC more than matched URI's intensity.

Number two, protect the glass. Over the past few years, under Jim Baron, URI has gang-rebounded, and pounded the boards for second and third shot opportunities with a vengeance. In this game, PC absolutely owned the boards, blocking URI out effectively, to the tune of a whopping 47-21 rebounding advantage. In fact, PC's 24 offensive rebounds exceeded URI's game total.

Finally, establish a dominating presence inside with a superior frontline. Mission accomplished. Along with the rebounding advantage, PC outscored URI in the paint by an incredible 66-26 margin. All of the numbers favored the Friars… PC had 24 points off of turnovers to URI's 3; PC had 22 fast break points to URI's 2; PC had 24 second chance points to URI's 5. It was total domination.

"This is becoming a smash-mouth type of team," said Tim Welsh. "I like that. After the paper-thin defensive teams we've had the last couple of years, I really like that. Rhode Island has had great rebounding teams and have hurt us on the boards, so we made rebounding a point of emphasis. There were three points of emphasis, really… rebounding, owning the paint and getting to their shooters."

In the first half, Will Daniels kept Rhody in the game, scoring 20 of URI's 35 points, on 6-7 shooting, including 4-4 threes. "We play a certain zone where you check to a guy," said Welsh. "Kind of like a box and one. I wanted our guys to know when Daniels was in their area. We lost him a few times. So we made an adjustment at halftime and pretty much shut him down in the second half."

After playing evenly for the first twelve minutes, PC began to pull ahead and opened its first ten point lead, at 31-21 with 3:50 left on a three by Geoff McDermott (15 points, 11 rebounds). The Friars maintained that lead for the remainder of the half and went into the lockerroom ahead 44-35. At that point, the numbers all favored the Friars, and the lead would have been bigger, except for Daniels' great half, and 6-10 shooting as a team from three by the Rams.

PC picked up from where they had left off as the second half began. "One of the things that is growing on me with this team is the ability to make adjustments at halftime," said Welsh. "In the past, we've sometimes come out flat in the second half. This team keeps going." When Herbert Hill nailed a short jumper with 18:48 remaining, the Friars lead went to double digits and it stayed there for the rest of the game.

A jumper by Sharaud Curry pushed the lead to 25 points, at 75-50 with 8:25 left, but the Rams, behind a couple of drives to the hoop by Kaheim Seawright, cut the gap to 79-63 with 5:35 remaining, causing the URI faithful to stir. However, a Curry layup, free throws by Weyinmi Efejuku (game-high 20 points), and a Hill jumper pushed the lead back to 20, and it stayed there for the remaining four minutes.

The Friars had three players with double-doubles, and five players in double figures in scoring. Along with McDermott, Jon Kale had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Curry had 16 points and a career-high 12 assists, with only 4 turnovers against URI's pressure. "Jon and Geoff really like to play tough," commented Welsh. "I knew when we recruited a Division I defensive end, he was tough, and I think Jon could play football, too. As far as Sharaud, our philosophy against pressure is to beat it before it gets set up. Sharaud can get under the pressure and beat it. I have confidence in Sharaud to stretch the floor, and then if you beat the pressure, you get some easy baskets."

After four years of mostly frustration, redemption came in a blowout.

With this win, PC stretched its lead in the series to 65-52 over URI… Tim Welsh-coached teams are now 8-3 versus Rhody… The lead only changed one time in this game… PC hit 15-19 free throws, compared to 10-16 for URI… The Friars had 24 assists on 38 baskets, and only 13 turnovers against decent Ram pressure. URI had 19 turnovers, versus 13 assists… Herb Hill had a big second half, scoring 15 of his 19 points, and he had 8 boards… Daniels finished with 23 points, only three in the second half, while Seawright had 19 points, 17 in the second half… PC bothered Jim Baron, Jr., holding the three point marksman to 3 points on one basket. Parfait Bitee scored only 4 points, also on one basket, and Joe Mbang was relatively ineffective, with 6 points and 5 rebounds… The PC bench outscored URI's bench 20-12... Dave Gavitt was at the Dunk for the first this season... PC's 29 point margin was their biggest margin of victory ever over URI.

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