PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/9/2014 – In the last three minutes of the game the La Salle Explorers wanted the ball in the hands of their senior point guard Tyreek Duren. It would be his game to win for the Explorers. Duren did not disappoint scoring 14 of the last 15 points for La Salle in winning their final regular season game at the Hagan Arena 71 – 63. It is a role that Duren enjoys.
“All our coaches tell me when it is crunch time to go get the ball not matter who is denying me or what’s going on until the ball is in my hands,” said Duren. “I have the confidence to make free throws and make the right plays at that moment.”
A traditional three-point play by the senior from Philadelphia put the Explorers ahead by 59 – 48 with 3:11 to play. It was his responsibility to get the ball and make the crucial foul shots needed to win the game. Duren responded by making 12 of 13 free throws down the stretch. Saint Joseph’s made critical baskets, but could not make any headway as Duren free throws matched each basket.
“I think he understands how important it is for our team that he has the ball,” said La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini about Duren. “He did a great job.”
For the game the Neumann-Goretti graduate scored a season-high 27 points making 16 of 17 from the line. Duren also added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He and fellow guard Sam Mills (5 assists) found junior forward Jerrell Wright underneath for 17 points. Wright pulled down 12 rebounds.
Starting quickly Saint Joseph’s senior guard Langston Galloway made his first four three-pointers on his way to a 27 point effort. Galloway would get one more from distance for the remainder of the game. Senior forward Halil Kanacevic scored 6 points and added 12 rebounds. He was saddled with foul trouble in the game. Fellow senior Ronald Roberts added 13 points while freshman forward DeAndre Bembry had 15 points and 5 assists.
La Salle won the turnover battle with 5 turnovers compared to 14 for Saint Joseph’s Hawks to have a 17 – 8 advantage in points off turnovers. Shooting from the charity stripe was key as the Explorers converted 25 of 31 attempts while the Hawks made 12 off 22, 9 of 16 in the second half.
La Salle (15 – 15, 7 – 9 A10, 3 – 1 Big Five) finished the regular season winning three of their last four games, and are showing signs of being the team they were expected to be. They earned the 8th seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament and will meet Saint Bonaventure in the first round. The Explorers will enter the tournament on a positive.
“Getting your head right more than anything is success,” said Giannini. “Making free throws, making some shots, getting a big win on the road. That gets your head right.”
“I have confidence that when we play the way we did today, we can beat any team in the Atlantic 10.” Duren said.
Meanwhile Saint Joseph’s (21 – 9, 11 – 5 A10, 2 – 2 Big Five) lost the last two games of the season and went from being the second seed to the fourth this week. The Hawks still have a bye to the quarterfinals.
“We had a long stretch when we were one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10, but we haven’t been this week,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli.