Friars Get Greedy Against Rutgers

Coming off a tough second half performance against Louisville? The Rutgers Scarlet Knights proved to be the perfect antidote, as Providence poured in 55 first half points and rolled to a 94-81 win. With the victory, PC improved to 10-6 on the season and evened their conference record at 2-2.

Facing a bigger Rutgers team, but one that was also slower at almost every position, Providence pressed and ran to one of its better first halves of the season. Rutgers never led in the game, as PC scored first and quickly built double digit leads. In fact, Rutgers would not narrow the gap to single digits until just five minutes remained in the game.

While Keno Davis strongly implied that line-up changes would occur after PC's lacksadaisical rebounding effort against Louisville, the Friars started off with the same starting line-up. "I know that I threatened changes," said Keno Davis. "But we had two of the best practices of the year in the last two days, and the starters really stepped it up and had great practices and great effort. It would have been wrong not to reward them."

Two of the Friars who apparently took Davis' threats to heart were sophomore Jamine Peterson and senior Brian McKenzie. Greedy stuffed the stat sheet in the first half, with 24 points and 11 rebounds, on his way to a 29 point, 20 rebound night. In fact, only a missed dunk (while being fouled) and four missed free throws kept Peterson from becoming the first Friar to record a 30 point, 20 rebound game since Marvin Barnes in 1974. Meanwhile, McKenzie hit three dagger threes in the first half, and finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds. "I don't have to say anything to Brian," said Davis. "He understands what it takes and has been a great leader on this team."

Behind aggressive play by Peterson and Sharaud Curry, the Friars jumped out to a quick 12-3 lead and although Rutgers battled back to within three behind Jonathan Mitchell, three pointers by Greedy and McKenzie and a foul shot by Vincent Council pushed the lead to double digits, at 25-15.

The Friars continued to roll from there, aided by an ice-cold Mike Rosario, who missed on three consecutive three point attempts. A three by Marshon Brooks and thundering dunk by Peterson moved the score to 41-24 and prompted a quick Fred Hill timeout. Two lay-ups and a three by Peterson along with a step-back three by Brooks made it 51-29, and a final exclamation point slam by Greedy with two seconds remaining sent PC to the half with a 55-38 lead.

Up seventeen points, and having shot 61% for the half, along with 8-10 free throws, the Friars offense predictably came back to earth in the second half. That, along with increased defensive intensity by Rutgers, contributed to the Scarlet Knights' ability to hang around and not get blown out. After shooting 7-13 from three in the first half, PC was 0-8 in the second half, but Rutgers was able to hit just one three in the second half themselves, after nailing seven in the first.

For the first ten minutes of the half, PC's lead fluctuated between twelve and nineteen points. Missed jumpers and missed free throws allowed the Knights to slowly close the gap. Mitchell nailed a jumper, Curry missed a three, and Hamady Ndiaye hit two free throws and a dunk and with 5:08 to play, PC's lead was 77-68. A lay-up by Brooks snapped Rutgers' run, but on the play, Brooks rolled his ankle and slumped to the floor, forcing him from the game. Brooks returned and was effective, but suffered a sprained ankle on the play.

The Friars nursed their double digit lead until Peterson missed two free throws and James Beatty hit a jumper to make it 85-76 with 1:25 to go. Curry made one free throw and after a Mike Coburn turnover, Brooks, now back in, sank two freebies for a 88-76 lead. Dane Miller scored and sank a free throw on a wide-open lay-up, and McKenzie committed a turnover on an in-bounds situation, with Rutgers up pressing. Miller scored on another lay-up and Rutgers trailed 88-81. Now with the Knights forced to foul, Curry hit both free throws, Coburn missed a three, and Duke Mondy, Curry and Council finished off the Knights with free throws.

For the game, Peterson and McKenzie were joined by Curry, with 21 points and only one attempted three pointer; Brooks, with 15 points and 6 rebounds and Council, with 9 points and 6 assists. The Friars shot just 13-27 from the free throw line in the second half, but out-rebounded Rutgers 44-41, including 19 offensive boards. Rutgers was hurt by the no-show of Rosario, who finished with just 2 points on 1-11 shooting, and fouled out. Miller poured in 26 points but committed 5 turnovers, Mitchell had 18 and Ndiaye 16.

"On the scout team, Duke Mondy was Mike Rosario," said Davis. "And we really concentrated our defense on him to the point where he couldn't get a shot off. Our goal is to be playing our best ball when we get to Madison Square Garden."

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