Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weyinmi Efejuku Leads PC Over Rutgers

Weyinmi Efejuku dropped 25 points as the Friars defeated Rutgers, 78-68, via ProJo Sports:

As one shot after another fell through the hoop and Providence College’s commanding lead over Rutgers shriveled Saturday night, Friars guard Weyinmi Efejuku knew something was wrong. Efejuku said he could see the Scarlet Knights making a charge, but only when he heard the PC boobirds begin to chirp did he realize that an 18-point second-half lead had shrunk to only one. "The fans weren’t appreciating our effort and I didn’t appreciate our effort," said the senior from New York. "We had to turn it up and close out the game." That’s exactly what the Friars did as they took Rutgers’ comeback punch and regrouped in time to come away with a 78-68 victory in front of a crowd of 11,246 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

That Efejuku and the rest of the Friars fell asleep in the second half can be understood. Rutgers (10-15, 1-11 Big East) played very poorly for the game’s opening 25 minutes and had every excuse to pack up early and begin the long drive back to the Garden State. But once the Knights began to hit a few shots and put some juice into a moribund offense, the game turned. "Their record might not show it, but they’re a good team and they’re in our league, so we knew eventually they’d make a run," said Efejuku. "That’s what they did and we didn’t retaliate very quickly. We were kind of shocked at the run they put on us so fast. Next thing I knew, we were up two. I thought we were up 15."

With Earl Pettis (13 points) and Jaron Griffin knocking home 3-pointers and Rutgers limiting Providence to one shot, the visitors ripped off a 19-3 run that cut the Friar lead to 56-54. From there, it was your typical Big East dogfight. Rutgers kept charging and closed to within 61-60 on a Griffin tip-in. It was 63-62 when the Friars finally dug in. A Sharaud Curry 3-pointer pushed the lead to 66-62 and the Friars’ defense then stopped Rutgers on three straight trips. Curry made one of two free throws to make it 67-62 with 2:23 left. Rutgers turned the ball over as it came up the floor and Efejuku ran the ball back at the Knights for a layup and a 69-62 lead. One free throw from Geoff McDermott and two more by Marshon Brooks made it 72-62 with 1:19 left and the Friars were out of the woods.

Efejuku led the Friars with 25 points and was clearly the best player on the court. Curry and Brooks added 12 points and Randall Hanke added 10. With the win, PC improves to 16-9 overall and 8-5 in the Big East. Coach Keno Davis was clearly not happy with the second-half letdown, but was happy his team hung tough and didn’t lose the lead.
The Friars got a scare in this one, but came out with the W in the end. PC is always tough to beat when Efejuku plays well and scores 20 plus points. This was one of the games remaining on PC's schedule that they had to win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive. The way this game went, I would not be surprised to see PC lose when the travel to Rutgers for the rematch in a couple weeks. PC always has trouble playing at Rutgers and the Scarlett Knights probably have the confidence to believe they can beat the Friars after coming back on them last night. Next up for PC is a trip to Louisville on Wednesday to face former PC coach Rick Pitino. I think the Friars can win this game if they can play some good D and not turn the ball over, because Louisville is a poor shooting team. Of course, against the Friars they will probably hit about 10 plus three's now.

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