Things weren't supposed to be this tough, were they?
The Friars overcame an atrocious first half and rallied after halftime to beat the Jackson State Tigers, 85-71, at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. Wednesday.
The Friars stumbled out of the gate, as sloppy ball handling and physical play had them out of their comfort zone.
In what can be described as a frustrating first half, the Friars allowed the Tigers to shoot at 62.5 percent from the field, while turning the ball over several times on offense. There were tons of intercepted passes, missed layups, and missed three-pointers, which were supposed to be the Friars' bread and butter this season.
The Tigers took an 11-1 run to end the first half, taking a 43-32 lead going into the locker room. This stunned the frustrated Friar fans, who booed the team lustily going into the locker room.
First half struggles have plagued the Friars all season long, as they have had a hard time matching other team's intensity, especially when the Friars have the ball. Guys would be open for a split second, only to have a Jackson State defender all over him by the time the ball came.
Open shots were hard to come by during the first 20 minutes, and coach Keno Davis had to make several adjustments headed into the second half.
Luckily, the Friars turned up the intensity in the second half, driving the ball to the hoop, drawing fouls, and playing stingier defense.
Senior Weyinmi Efejuku, who was non-existent in the first half, had 16 of his 18 points in the second. Six Friars ended up in double figures, helping the Friars outscore Jackson State 53-28 in the second half.
This Friar team is crisp when it wants to be. It's frustrating to watch a team seemingly lack effort, hustle, or heart, especially to weak non-conference teams. Clearly the offense has struggled, but Coach Davis believes that this team can turn it around.
"I think the timing of our offense still needs a little work, but that is certainly not because of effort," Davis said. "Our guys are coming in everyday and working hard to improve."
This improvement has to manifest itself for a full 40 minutes in order for the Friars to be competitive in the tough Big East Conference. This team is talented, and they have players who can get it done at any given night.
It is clear that they lack consistency. Maybe it's because of the long break after the URI game, maybe not. Either way, this team has to step it up over the next few weeks and pad their schedule before the Big East comes knocking.
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