PC Exacts Revenge On The Seminoles, 101-95

What a difference a season can make. Last year, Providence College traveled to Florida, gave up 92 points to Florida State, and lost by thirty. This year, at the Dunk, the Friars give up 95 points to the Seminoles and come out with a huge win… improving to 8-3 on the season.

Difference number one is that last year, PC's offense struggled in Tallahassie, putting up only 62 points and turning the ball over in torrents. This game was different, as Providence stroked the ball from all over the court and put up a season high 101 points.

Florida State may be as good as any team that the Friars have faced up to this point this year. The Noles feature a tough, physical corp of guards and wing players who can shoot, and also get right up on you on defense. Jason Rich, Isaah Swann, Toney Douglas and Ralph Mims will give opponents fits this year in the ACC, and they took advantage of every small crack that PC's defense presented.

Florida State jumped out to a 8-0 lead before Jeff Xavier swished a three pointer to get PC off the schneid, but a furious rush by the Friars tied the game at 11-all, and it was clear that the Friars offense was clicking on all cylinders. The game remained nip and tuck in the first half until four minutes remained and Geoff McDermott hit a layup, Weyinmi Efejuku nailed a three, and Randall Hanke followed with a short jumper and a tip in off an Xavier miss, and suddenly the Friars were up ten, 47-37, with 1:33 to play.

Two baskets by Rich trimmed the lead to six, but a broken play layup by Jamine Peterson at the buzzer sent the Friars to the lockerroom with a 49-41 lead. Greedy had been a key performer in the first half with three dunks that helped keep the Friars on pace with the Seminoles.

Uche Echefu, a lanky 6'9 forward, wasted no time as the second half began by swishing a three pointer, and when Xavier answered, the two teams began a pattern of trading baskets, with Florida State edging closer and the Friars attempting to hold them off. By the fifteen minute mark, the Seminoles had crept to within 56-55, but Xavier answered with a short jumper.

PC's offense got a little sloppy and turnovers by Xavier and Charles Burch, along with a missed jumper by Hanke allowed the Noles to catch the Friars at 70-all and again at 73-all. Florida State would never retake the lead, though, as PC used two layups by Efejuku, two free throws each by Burch and Hanke, and threes by Xavier and Brian McKenzie on a curl, to open a 87-77 lead with 4:30 to play.

From there, the lead never dipped below five points. A three by Rich made it 92-87, but McDermott and Efejuku hit their free throws and a layup by Echefu made it 96-91, but by this point, Florida State was fouling on every possession and Xavier, McDermott and Efejuku answered with free throws, and the game was over.

"The game of basketball is obviously wacky," said Tim Welsh. "People in attendance on Wednesday (Sacred Heart) who saw today wouldn't have believed it. We talked about competing and fighting. We had to be focused until the last second because they keep coming at you. I gave the team homework. I told them to watch Pittsburgh-Duke. Those two teams compete. I knew it would be a streetfight."

For the Friars, this game was huge. The Seminoles were 10-3 coming into the contest and figure to be a tough team in the ACC this year. With one non-conference game remaining, on New Year's Eve against St. Peter's, PC really needed to go into the Big East portion of its schedule no worse than 9-3. If the Friars maintain focus and take care of business in their next game, that mission will have been accomplished.

• In what was a very physical game, the Friars were dropping like flies. Already without Sharaud Curry, who was at the game with his foot back in the boot, starting point guard Dwain Williams strained his Achilles tendon early in the first half, and was of limited use after that. Williams also seems to be struggling with a sore shoulder and an elbow injury of some type.

In addition, Weyinmi Efejuku cramped up with about four minutes to play in the game and he had to come out. When he returned, he limped his way through the final minutes. Brian McKenzie, headed for an easy layup, was fouled hard and fell on his back with about four minutes left. He came out and Williams took his free throws for him. McKenzie returned and seemed fine but the coming time off will do this team good.

• With Curry and Williams out, McDermott slid to the point position and brought the ball upcourt, finishing with ten assists. "We moved Geoff to point because we figured they'd play a forward against him," said Welsh. "When we put Geoff at point, it loosened things up because our scorers can come off screens."

• Jeff Xavier had a monster game, scoring 27 points on 9-17 shooting, including 7-12 threes. In addition, he was a pest on defense, once diving over a table on the end line in an effort to keep the ball inbounds. "I called Jeff out significantly in the tape session (after Sacred Heart)," commented Welsh. "I asked him if something was wrong. He;e's engaged but he's not married yet, so it couldn't have been marital problems. He floated through the sacred Heart game. His m.o. is that he plays with tenacity, like the play where he dove over the table. He told me yesterday that he was going to be back today, and when he says something, I believe him."

• Some eyebrows were raised when Jonathan Kale didn't get into the game. "Jon is a big part of the mix," said Welsh. "It was just my decision. He'll get back in the mix. Jon has to get his confidence back. They went with four guards a lot so its hard to play a lot of power guys."

• The Friars featured another game with balanced scoring. Along with Xavier's effort, Efejuku had 25 points on 8-14 shooting, Randall Hanke had another strong game, with 15 points and 5 boards, McDermott filled the stat sheet with 12 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, Greedy Peterson chipped in with 10 points, and McKenzie hit some huge shots for nine points. The Friars were outrebounded, 31-27, but piled up 19 assists against only 13 turnovers.

• Florida State made themselves no friends at the end of halftime. As the second half was about to start, the refs approached the scorers table and told officials that Leonard Hamilton had raised an objection to one of the nets. After the first half, one of the nets had ripped and a crew had replaced the net. Because Florida State was going to be shooting at the basket with the new net, Hamilton demanded that the other net be changed too, or he wanted the old, ripped net back. While the crowd of 9,069 wondered what was going on, the crew came back out with the old, ripped net and put it back on the basket. After a delay of about twenty minutes, the second half began.

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