PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/18/2017 – In the final Big Five game of the season and one of the better offensive performances by the La Salle Explorers, especially in the first half, to earn a 83 – 68 victory over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at the Gola Arena. La Salle also got a needed Atlantic 10 victory.
In the first half six of the eight Explorers players scored. As a team they made 14 of 30 shots, 7 of 16 from distance, and had 10 assists on the 14 baskets. In the early going both La Salle guards Pookie Powell and Amar Stukes hit double figures with 11 and 15 points. Jordan Price led the way with the helps by dishing out 4. Stukes was credited with 3. The drawback back was 8 turnovers, but it did not have an adverse effect as the Explorers actually led in points off turnovers getting 7 points off 5 Hawks turnovers. Saint Joseph’s had 6 points off La Salle miscues.
“There was a possession in there when B.J. (Johnson) got a three that we thought was our best possession of the year, it was thing of beauty,” said La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini. “We want to be more consistent, but there were some great possessions in there.”
Meanwhile the Hawks could not get it going on offense shooting 36% in the half and did not convert a three-pointer on 6 tries. Playing without scoring leaders Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble who suffered season ending injuries this season, it was going to be difficult to get the needed points.
However, the Hawks would not let this game go without showing some fight. Saint Joe’s won the second half (42 – 39) and made a run at La Salle cutting the lead to 71 – 60 with just under five minutes to play, but got no closer.
Beyond the arc the Explorers had 12 while the Hawks made two.
“It’s just numbers and has nothing to do with anything else,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “If you say one team makes twelve three’s and the other team makes two, then I would say the team that makes twelve wins. That’s basically the story.”
“They scored and we didn’t.”
Price and B.J. Johnson scored a team-high 18 points each. Amar Stukes contributed 15 points and a team-high 6 assists. Johnson had a game-best 9 rebounds
James Demery counted for 18 of the Saint Joe’s points and he led the team in rebounding with 7 points and 5 assists.
La Salle improves to 14 – 11 on the year, and are 8 – 6 in the Atlantic 10. It was their first city series win this season. The Explorers are in position to be tied for the fifth seed in the upcoming conference tournament. The win also snaps a two-game losing skid. They have an important home game Tuesday night against Rhode Island who is also in the mix for a bye into the league tournament quarterfinal round.
“I think we can win the rest of our games and it is important for us to do that,” said Stukes. “Every game matters, and we’ve got to get the next game.”
Saint Joe’s has dropped six straight games and are 10 – 16 overall and 3 – 11 in the A10. SJU also finishes 1 – 3 in the Big Five. St. Bonaventure pays a visit to Hawk Hill on Wednesday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian