With Boston College, URI and South Carolina on tap, PC needed to play well in its final tuneup, and play well it did. The Friars let the Bears hang around for the first eight minutes but took the lead for good at 16-13 on a three pointer by Jeff Xavier. From there, Geoff McDermott put together his most inspired ten minute stretch of the season, hitting short jumpers, layups and dunks, as well as grabbing every rebound in sight, as the Friarts lead ballooned to 35-21 on another Xavier three with three minutes left.
At halftime, PC led 37-25 and McDermott already had a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. "Geoff was a one man wrecking crew in the first half," said Tim Welsh. "He puts the team on his back. The whole team oozes confidence when he plays well. I expect a lot out of him and we ask him to do a lot. I think he's one of the top twenty players in the country."
In the second half, the Friars were never challenged. A dunk and three pointer by McDermott on successive possessions pushed the lead to 52-31, and Maine was gasping for breath. The Black Bears had scored just 11 points in thirteen minutes and by that time, PC's lead was 67-36 on a three by Weyinmi Efejuku.
The final five minutes were true garbage time, as Maine's mammoth Brian Andre (6'9, 310 pounds) padded his numbers with a series of dunks and layups but PC's lead never dropped below 30 points. Andre finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but the Friars countered with four players in double figures, led by McDermott, who stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists, Efejuku, who heated up in the second half, with 14 points, Brian McKenzie, solid throughout with 13 points, and Dwain Williams, with 10 points.
• The second half marked the return of Jonathan Kale. Kale was much more aggressive, much more energized, and fought hard inside for rebounds and layups, drawing fouls. After a sluggish first half, Kale, who played with an arm wrap to protect an injured elbow, came alive. If he can continue to play this way, it will be a huge boost for the Friars. Jon doesn't even have to score… his aggressive inside play can draw opposing big men into foul trouble.
• Randall Hanke entered the game with 5:41 to play, and played until the end. While Hanke looks comfortable on the offensive end, posting up and presenting a target for the ball, he's still often out of position on defense. In fact, Andre took advantage of Hanke's presence in the last five minutes, using his size to seal Hanke off and scoring unchallenged on a series of inside hoops. "Randall keeps getting better," said Welsh. "He'll be fine down the road. It's just going to take time. I'm so happy that he's back and he and I have talked. It's a long road back."
• The Friars are not a shy bunch. PC hoisted 29 threes and needs to score from the outside to be effective. Perhaps no one is more confident than Williams, who launched three thirty footers. After the third, Welsh pulled Dwain aside and told him to run the offense. "Dwain got a little trigger happy," smiled Welsh.
• The Friars defense was tough. Perhaps as never before, Welsh is into every defensive possession, switching from zone to man, applying traps, slapping full, three quarter and half court presses, shouting out positioning to players. There's also a lot of teaching going on during the game. After one Maine possession that resulted in a foul inside against Kale, Welsh called Xavier over and told him, "Because you didn't slide out, Jon had to guard that guy and got a foul." Message sent and received. PC held Maine to 35% shooting.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Geoff McDermott scored 17 points on 8-11 shooting and was lights out for a ten minute stretch in the first half that saw the Friars break open the game.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Brian McKenzie recorded two steals, but the versatile athlete was all over the floor, deflecting passes, harassing ballhandlers, hitting the boards. His confident play is forcing more and more minutes.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Jamine Peterson roared in from the right, elevated inside the foul line, absorbed a hard hit on his left hip, and slammed a monstrous dunk home in the second half. Greedy continues to impress with his extraordinary athleticism.
PASS OF THE GAME:
Marshon Brooks dribbled his way into the lane towards the hoop between three defenders and whipped a no look pass to his right to a streaking Hanke, who laid it in, late in the game.
PC Clamps Down on Maine, 78-48
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