PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/18/2012 – The are games in a basketball season where one team plays well, but the other team plays better. This was the case for the LaSalle Explorers as they fall 81 – 74 against the Blue Devils of Central Connecticut State at the Gola Arena. The shot the ball better, shot free throws better, did not turn the ball over as much, and made the big plays when the game hung in the balance.
“We played hard,” LaSalle Coach Dr. John Giannini said. “They just played a little harder, made more shots, were a little tougher, and wanted it a little more. We did not lay down. They earned that win. We gave effort. They just deserve a lot of credit. Anyone who plays with the tenacity they did earns a lot of credit.”
Central Connecticut State (CCSU) showed they were going to be a tough opponent. In the first half the Blue Devils made 19 of 34 shots (55.9%) en route to a 48 – 44 halftime lead. LaSalle did not shoot badly making 15 of 30 and 7 of 15 from beyond the arc. The Explorers did turn the ball over 8 times to just 2 for CCSU. LaSalle also did not play well on defense.
“We talk a lot about defense,” Giannini said. “In the first half we couldn’t have played much worse. I thought we were in going shape because we would play much better in the second half.”
In the second half things began to turn in LaSalle’s direction. Slowing down the Blue Devils offense the Explorers took the lead at the 12:06 mark on a layup by Junior guard Tyreek Duren. Senior Guard Ramon Galloway felt the turnaround was due to LaSalle playing with more defensive intensity in the second half.
“We had to match Central Connecticut’s will power,” said Galloway. “Going into the second half we said that we had to get stops. With a couple more stops we could win the game. Numerous times we were close to winning the game, but we couldn’t get the big stops when we needed it.”
CCSU answered back right away as forward Joe Efese converted a layup one minute later. The Blue Devil lead stretched to 6 points with 6:54 to play. La Salle would make a charge, but as for most of the game, CCSU would respond. The Explorers tied it at 74 at the 1:57 mark. On the next possession guard Malcolm McMillan made jumper to give the lead back to the Blue Devils. Giannini felt this could have been the biggest play in deciding the outcome.
“McMillan made such a tough shot,” said Giannini. He is not known as a jump shooter, but made a big shot at crunch time.”
The Blue Devils scored the last 7 points of the game.
Guard Kyle Vinales led all scorers with 23 points. Fellow Blue Devil guard Adonis Burbage added 21 points. Forward Matt Hunter scored 15 points and had a team-best 8 rebounds. For LaSalle Sophomore forward Jerrell Wright scored 18 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Junior guard Sam Mills scored 16 points, Galloway had 15, and Duren 12 points.
LaSalle evens their season record at 1 – 1. The Explorers prepare for a November 20th game at Hartford. They can look forward to the next one knowing that in the last game the other team played just a little bit better.
“We have to put it behind us and move forward,” said Galloway. “We know what we did.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian