PHILADELPHIA, January 10, 2012 – It was a Big Five game at the Palestra. Two teams with outstanding guard play. It would figure the winner would be who had the better guard play. The LaSalle Explorers did, and LaSalle won 68 – 57 over the University of Pennsylvania Quakers at the Palestra. LaSalle evens their Big Five record at 1 – 1, while Penn dropped to 1 – 2 in City Series play.
The intriguing matchup was the LaSalle guard combination of Sophomore Tyreek Duren, Junior Ramon Galloway, Sophomore Sam Mills, and Senior Earl Pettis against the Penn combination of Seniors Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini, and Sophomore Miles Cartwright.
“I thought the game would come down to our guards versus theirs,” said LaSalle Coach John Giannini. “Their (Penn) guards are tremendous. I have to tip my hat to our players. They took the challenge. They know how good Rosen, Bernardini, and Cartwright are, and they took the challenge on with a great defensive effort.”
LaSalle got 57 of their 68 points from their starting backcourt making 19 pf 37 shots. The group also contributed 9 assists and 7 steals. It was on the defensive end of the floor where the group had impact limiting the Penn group to 9 of 31 from the field. 14 Penn turnovers resulted in fast breaks for LaSalle as they outscored Penn 15 – 0 on fast break points. Bernardini was the only double-figures scoring guard for Penn getting 12 points.
“It’s been the focal point of our defensive strategy all week trying to hold the top scorers under their average” said Duren. “When we do that we have success.”
Duren led all scorers with a game-high 21 points. He added 6 assists and 4 steals in the contest. Pettis scored 18, Mills had 12. Galloway scored 6 points and 3 steals. It was the toughness of the LaSalle guards that impressed Penn Coach Jerome Allen.
“Duren, Galloway, and Pettis got in the paint whenever they wanted to, and they did a decent job of sharing the basketball,” said Allen. “Their posture, their demeanor, the look in their eyes, they realized it was a city game, a Big Five basketball game. Our guys didn’t come out with that same sense of urgency.”
Rosen was held to 8 points shooting 3 of 13 trying to get shots over the taller Galloway and other LaSalle defenders. While Rosen did not score baskets, he led the Penn offense with 9 assists. Most of the passes were of the “wow” variety, and went to Sophomore forward Fran Dougherty who had a career-high 14 points. Cartwright also had 8 points. Penn made it interesting getting to within 5 points at 60 – 55 with 2:45 to play on a Bernardini jump shot. LaSalle responded by scoring the next 7 points to get the win. Penn got close, but they needed more offense.
“They were tougher, and we need more guys to step up and make plays,” Allen said. “We can’t win with just one guy (Rosen) making plays.”
Penn is 7 – 9 on the season and start the Ivy League part of their schedule as they visit Columbia. LaSalle won their 6th straight game to improve to 13 – 4. The Explores visit Dayton in their next contest. Giannini is pleased with the effort and the win.
“To me, this is one of our better wins.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian