PHILADELPHIA, PA 3/2/2013 – This time of year is critical for college basketball teams that want to play in the post-season, specifically the NCAA Tournament. Every opponent is dangerous, every opponent must be respected, and your team must play their best. The LaSalle Explorers understands that and showed it throwing an early knockout punch beating the Duquesne Dukes 97 – 64 at the Gola Arena. That was the Explorers mindset going in, and the team decided the issue early.
“I thought we played great, I though we played hard, we were focused, we shared the ball, we defended, and had everyone contribute,” said LaSalle Coach Dr. John Giannini. “Everyone knows Duquesne has beaten some good teams this year like Temple and West Virginia. I am extremely pleased with the way we played.”
“They’ve beaten good teams and we did not want to be one of them.”
LaSalle took a 13- 3 lead. The defense forced Duquesne to miss their first 10 shots in the game. The first basket for the Dukes came at the 13:34 mark of the first half. Meanwhile, the Explorers made 7 of their first 9 shots and gave an indication that this would be a team effort as 5 of those field goals came off an assist. Later in the half LaSalle went on a 26 – 10 run to take their largest lead of the half at 39 – 13 with 5:42 on the clock. The run was keyed by a host of Explorers as senior guard Ramon Galloway, who scored a game-high 23 points, junior guard Sam Mills, junior guard Tyrone Garland, and senior guard Tyreek Duren all scored in the run. On the defensive side of the ball Duquesne made 9 of 30 field goal attempts, and were limited to 1 of 7 three-pointers. For the game Duquesne shot 40.6% (26 – 64), yet were held to 3 of 16 from beyond the arc, none for leading scorer and three-point shooter Derrick Colter who score 16 points. Coach Giannini credited the defensive work of junior guard Sam Mills for limiting Colter.
“I thought Sam’s (Mills) defense on Coulter really got us started,” said Giannini. “He shut him out in the first half. Sam set the tone for our aggressiveness.”
“Coach explained to us that we don’t let them shoot tons of three’s,” said Galloway. “They are like us, they play four guards, play uptempo, and if we don’t let them shoots three’s we’ll be in the game.”
In the second half Duquesne was sharper on offense, looking more like the team that beat Temple earlier this season. However, LaSalle regained their edge and got out to the largest lead at 37 leading 90 – 53 with 6:30 to play.
In addition to Galloway the Explorers had three other players in double-figures. Duren and junior forward Jerrell Wright scored 16 point each. Mills contributed 10. LaSalle had 23 assists on 34 field goals and had a 20 – 3 edge in points off turnovers. Wright also pulled down a game-high 8 rebounds and was given the LaSalle Rebounding Championship belt for his effort.
“Whoever gets the most rebounds at the end of the game, get’s the belt,” said Wright. “I had 8 rebounds, so I got it today.”
The win gives LaSalle 20 on the season and avoids a late season stumble. The team has 2 more regular season games and the Atlantic 10 tournament to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume. The team knows the invitation is within their grasp, and will not lose focus on that.
“Every game from here on in is big,” Galloway said. “You’ve got to make a run in March. That’s the most important run.”
“It’s all of our dreams (getting to the NCAA’s). I’ve never been to the NCAA’s. We’re not trying to make too big of a deal. We understand that we have two more games and the Atlantic 10 Tournament. We always go with the philosophy, next game, next practice.”
“The way to get to the NCAA Tournament is to win games,” Giannini said. “We understand that. You’ve got to win.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian