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Chukwu powers Fairfield Prep past ND-West Haven

Published 11:03 pm, Thursday, February 6, 2014
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WEST HAVEN -- Providence College basketball coach Ed Cooley will probably be thrilled to hear that one of his top recruits, Fairfield Prep's Paschal Chukwu, played a "terrible" game Thursday night.

Now, why exactly would Cooley be happy with that? Well, because this is what Chukwu and his coach Leo Redgate would describe as a terrible performance for the 7-footer: 23 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, five blocked shots. That was Chukwu's stat line in undefeated Prep's 81-65 SCC basketball victory over Notre Dame of West Haven.

"We don't go by points or rebounds or other stats," Redgate said. "Paschal missed eight shots in the first half! He'd tell you he had a terrible game."

The coach was right.

"This was a bad game for me, just terrible," Chukwu said. "I missed too many wide open dunks. The credit goes to my teammates."

OK, Chukwu did miss four dunks and he went scoreless in the second quarter when Notre Dame rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a two-point lead before falling behind 36-32 at the half. And yes, his teammates deserve credit, led by good-looking freshman forward Patrick Harding.

Harding had 15 points -- 12 in the first half -- and five rebounds. David Zielinski also had 15 points and five boards while Thomas Nolan had 12 points and Keith Pettway had 11. And don't forget, all this while the Jesuits (15-0, 5-0 SCC) are still without two key injured players, Ryan Murphy and Ryan Foley.

But the numbers don't lie. Chukwu dominated, regardless of what he and his coach may think.

"Can Paschal play better? Absolutely," Notre Dame coach Jason Shea said. "But let's face it, no big man in the state can do what he did tonight, and he didn't even play his best."

Shea knew his ND team, which doesn't have a player taller than 6-foot-4, would have its hands full against Chukwu. But after falling behind 21-8, the Green Knights (11-4, 3-3) grabbed a 28-26 lead thanks to the hot shooting of Tahj Eaddy, who had 20 of his 24 points in the first half.

"We knew I would have a big game against them because nobody matches up against me," Chukwu said. "But while we haven't played our best basketball yet, we're still undefeated. If we do what the coach wants we can finish undefeated."

Notre Dame was still within two at 42-40 midway through the third quarter before Prep strengthened its perimeter defense and kept Eaddy in check. The Jesuits went on a 17-2 run to make it 59-42.

"Tahj hurt them in the first half when we exposed them on the perimeter," Shea said. "But they took Tahj away in the second half when we got in a little foul trouble."

Karim Cisse had 16 points for the Green Knights, whose four losses have all come against top 10 teams. Kalane Ham added 12 of his 14 points after halftime.

FAIRFIELD PREP (15-0, 5-0 SCC)

Keith Pettway 5 1-1 11 Thomas Nolan 3 5-6 12 Ray Featherston 1 0-0 3 David Zielinski 4 5-5 15 John Murphy 0 0-0 0 Tate Duran 0 0-0 0 Patrick Harding 6 3-4 15 Joseph DiGennaro 0 0-0 0 Paschal Chukwu 9 5-5 23 Richard Van de Berghe 1 0-0 2 Matt Gerics 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 19-21 81

ND-WEST HAVEN (11-4, 3-3)

Tahj Eaddy 9 3-3 24 Kalane Ham 4 4-4 14 Karim Cisse 7 0-0 16 Mike Mullen 0 0-0 0 Alex Puzone 2 0-0 6 Ben Bagnoli 0 0-0 0 CJ Lewis 0 0-0 0 Lonnie Blackwell 1 0-0 3 Kam Matthews 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 7-7 65

FAIRFIELD PREP 25 11 21 24--81

ND-WEST HAVEN 13 19 10 23--65

3-pointers: FP--Zielinski 2, Nolan, Featherson; NDWH--Eaddy 3, Ham 2, Cisse 2, Puzone 2, Blackwell.

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