Friars Turn Back Eagles in OT

The Providence Friars outscored Boston College 22-13 in overtime to win 98-89 at the Hall of Fame Challenge in Boston. The roller coaster nature of the game certainly was not how Tim Welsh drew up the game plan, but the win in OT was a key non-conference victory over an ACC foe.

The game saw the Friars gain a commanding 24 point lead, give it all away over 10 minutes, and recover from down six in the final minute to send the contest to overtime, where they pulled out the win from a worn out Eagles team. Weyinmi Efejuku (21 pts) and Jeff Xavier (20pts) both hit key 3 point shots to even up the game at 76 at the end of regulation to set up the overtime.

Of course, it never should have come to that. As good as Providence looked on both ends of the floor with team leader Geoff McDermott (8pts,10assists,3blks,2steals) over the first 27 minutes of the game, they appeared dead in the water without him once personal fouls forced McDermott to the bench. Lacking McDermott to orchestrate the offense and rebound, Providence looked completely lost at times in the second half. The late game heroics of Weyinme Efejuku, (21pts, 9rbs, 4asssists) with some key help from Jeff Xavier and Greedy Peterson, really carried the team in the final minutes.

Tyrese Rice led the Eagles with 25 points, while freshman Corey Raji had a breakout night with 24 points, a career high for him. Shamari Spears chipped in with 16 points. While both teams deserve credit for never giving up at different points, when Providence became complacent with the big lead and then had to play without McDermott, the Eagles struck back with everything they had.

Besides running poor offense, much Providence's 2nd half implosion was due to a lack of rebounding on the defensive end where Raji and Spears feasted on Friar rebounding woes. Missed free throws and a much more porous defense than what they exhibited in the first half contributed to the problems as well. Brian McKenzie, a good defender and rebounder, also fouled out which added to the Friars' difficulties.

One critical factor in the Friars late reawakening was the insertion of Jamine "Greedy" Peterson. While only a freshmen with a still developing offensive game, Peterson gave the Friars some fresh defensive legs, aggressive energy on both ends, and the rebounding skills to stop BC when they needed it most. He also complemented Weyinme Efejuku beautifully in the overtime period, cashing in for baskets on Efejuku's drive and dish moves. Interestingly, in only 19 minutes, Peterson scored 14 points and pulled down 7 rebounds, outperforming BC's highly regarded freshman Rakim Sanders, who finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

This was the 102nd meeting of the former Big East rivals; Providence now holds a 57-45 series lead over Boston College.

What was learned?

When the Friars get the ball in the lane and distribute it to open teammates, Providence can play at a very high level. However, Tim Welsh has to find a way to teach his team to execute their offense when Geoff McDermott is not playing. (see last 10 minutes of the BC game) While Weyinme Efejuku stepped up just in time to steady the ship in that regard, the BC game exposed a flaw in the Friar offense that needs immediate addressing going forward.

If there was one decision that Tim Welsh wishes he acted on sooner, it might be the insertion of Greedy Peterson into the game earlier in the 2nd half. Peterson is a difference maker, and he's already shown he makes the team better in this early part of the season. Providence may have been able to pull out the game in regulation if the lineup that succeeded in the OT had more time on the court over the final 10 minutes of regulation.

"As a coach, you look at all aspects," Tim Welsh said. "You appreciate the effort to come back when it looked like we were dead. I wasn't feeling so good as a coach but I know these kids have a lot of heart."

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