PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/16/2013 – This was a “big” game for both teams. Big in terms of Atlantic 10 standings, NCAA Tournament implications for LaSalle, at least a share of the Big Five title on the line, and played in front of a sold-out Palestra. Both teams gave it everything they had. In the end the LaSalle Explorers were just a bit better, and got a 76 – 64 win over the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s. The Explorers were able to get the win by playing a “team oriented” game, led by senior guard Ramon Galloway who had a career-high 12 assists to go along with 16 points.
“We beat a veteran team, a talented team (Saint Joseph’s),” said LaSalle Coach Dr. John Giannini who credited his players for making the right decisions. “The reason we won the game was we shared the ball so well offensively. The stats speak for themselves. Beautiful passing, and we like to say great passers make great shooters. If you get the ball in the right pocket, wide open, you are going to make more shots. The guys played very well together and set themselves up nicely.”
“They (LaSalle) figured out what’s good for the team is good for the individual.”
It was not a pretty start to the game. It could have been nerves, it could have been a big moment, or most likely both teams were playing with heart and intensity. LaSalle committed 10 turnovers in the first half, but the Explorers settled down. In the game LaSalle had 22 assists on 28 field goals. The recipient of the Galloway assists were junior guard Tyreek Duren who scored a career-high tying 29 points making 9 of 12 from the floor and 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Jerrell Wright got passes from Ramon Galloway that allowed LaSalle to have an inside presence. Wright scored 1o points on 5 of 8 shooting while sophomore center Steve Zack made all of his four shots. If Saint Joseph’s wanted to take away the jump shots, the LaSalle guards went inside. Once an adjustment was made LaSalle hit the outside shots.
“I just want to do what it takes to win the game,” said Ramon Galloway about being a facilitator. “I felt confident. I felt good. I didn’t feel the need to force shots. Last year when we played them we forced a lot of shots.”
Saint Joseph’s did not allow LaSalle to run away. The Hawks kept within striking distance. A three by Saint Joseph’s junior forward Halil Kanacevic points, with 10:32 remaining cut the deficit to seven at 48 – 41. Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren answered with an assisted three-pointer and layup to give LaSalle a 53 – 41 lead with 9:17 to play. Eight of the last baskets by LaSalle came off 6 assists. The Hawks did get back to within 7 at 63 – 56, but a jumper and a three-point basket by Ramon Galloway, both off assists, gave the Explorers control of the game.
“The offensive efficiency was a credit to them (LaSalle),” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “We re not going home beat up defensively. Thier offensive efficiency is in the numbers, and is a nice way of playing basketball. One of our keys was man-to-man, can you win your match-up? We didn’t win enough of those matchups. The better team won. They played better, and the better team won today.”
Kanacevic scored a team-high 16 points for Saint Joseph’s. Junior guard Langston Galloway added 12 points and a season-high 5 assists. Junior forward Ronald Roberts registered his 12th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Saint Joe’s converted 26 of 49 field goal attempts (53.1%) and went 5 of 15 from three-point land. The Hawks are 14 – 10 this season and are 5 – 6 in Atlantic 10 play. In the city Saint Joseph’s is an even 2 – 2.
LaSalle made 72.7% of their shots in the second half (16-22), and went 62.2% overall while making 10 of 16 from beyond the arc. The Explorers have clinched at least a share of the city title with this win. LaSalle can win the city series outright with a won at Temple on Thursday. The Explorers are 18 – 6 overall and 8 – 3 in conference. The win strengthens their tournament resume, and a Big Five title has great meaning to the present players.
“We went into the locker room and enjoyed this game, and now it’s on to Temple,” said Ramon Galloway. “Winning the Big Five is huge. I can’t explain it. This is my second year playing in the Big Five. This year is huge for me because it’s my last year, and I don’t have another chance to win the Big Five. We want to be in the record books, we want to be a great team, not just settle for good.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian