PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/17/2016 – It was a cold and snowy day in Philadelphia that greeted the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles as they visited the La Salle Explorers. The weather did not seem to bother the Explorers who got off to a hot start in the first eight minutes. FGCU seemed to warm up as the game went on, and a chill set in for LSU especially from the three-point line.
The end of the game would generate a lot of heat for the 1,220 in attendance. FGCU fell victim to ‘winter storm B.J. Johnson’ who scored a career-high 35 points, 28 in the second half, to lead La Salle to an 84 – 80 win at the Gola Arena. Johnson made four free throws in the last 30 seconds to keep the Explorers in front, then put the exclamation mark on the game with a dunk with 6.9 seconds on the clock. Jordan Price added 16 points and his version of the “floater” at the 48.9 second mark was a critical basket for La Salle which provided a four-point lead. It was one of many big plays for LSU.
Johnson, a graduate of Lower Merion, made 10 of 16 from the field, 3 of 6 from deep, and made 12 of 14 from the charity stripe.
“I’m just playing the game, being aggressive without being too aggressive,” said Johnson. “My teammates want me to be aggressive.”
The duo carried the Explorers late in the second half.
“When you’re most talented guys are dependable, you can have a special team,” said La Salle Coach Sr. John Giannini. “Your lead players have to lead. That is another good sign for our team. If you’re highly talented guys under perform, you are not going to reach your potential. To have those guys (Johnson and Price) this is a good sign for our team. B.J. and Jordan did what their team needed them to do to win.”
Price and Johnson were the only double-figure scorers for LSU, but the seven other players who were on the floor provided points. Cleon Roberts added 8 points, but had to leave the game 13 minutes in due to injury.
Florida Gulf Coast stayed in the ahead with their three-point shooting. It was their most effective weapon making 12 of 24 in the game. La Salle made 8 of 25 from beyond the arc. Guard Brandon Goodwin led the Eagles with 26 points and made 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Reggie Reid had 23 points. Zach Johnson made 4 of 6 three-pointers and scored 18 points.
“They had us down, but our guys found a way to win,” said Giannini. “When you have a lot going against you, and you beat a good team playing well, that’s a major sign of growth for the team.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian