PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/11/2017 – A new season, new teams, new players. Yet there was something familiar about the foes. The La Salle Explorers and Peacocks of Saint Peters battled for many years in the MAAC Conference from 1983 – 1992. But that was then. Now, a combination of experienced and young players along with a solid defensive effort propelled La Salle to a 61 – 40 win at the Gola Arena.
Going into the season the Explorers knew they would have to count on the efforts of forward B.J. Johnson and guard Pookie Powell. They contributed as Powell scored a game-high 18 points making 6 of 9 from the field. Johnson added 15 points and a game-best 11 rebounds. What La Salle needed and got was production from the less experienced players as Saul Phiri and Isaiah Deas and freshman Miles Brookins who chipped in with hustle plays, a total of 12 points.
“The play where Isaiah Deas dove on a loose ball and gave us an extra possession, it was a gigantic play,” said La Salle Coach John Giannini. “Isaiah is an offensive oriented player, as are most of our guys, then all of a sudden is making effort plays and helping the team win in a variety of ways.”
“Miles Brookins was terrific,” said Giannini. “Saul and Isaiah are young players because they did not get a chance to play much last year. Those guys will have some big games this year which we will need.”
Defense was the catalyst to this win. Saint Peter’s was held to 30.6% shooting (15 of 49) and no player scored in double figures. The game turned in the direction of the Explorers late in the first half. Peacocks guard Nick Griffin hit a three-pointer to give his team a 16 – 13 lead with 11:49 left in the first half. They would not score for the next 10:40. The 17 – 0 run would give La Salle a 30 – 16 lead. Saint Peters tried to crawl back in, but the home team made enough plays to keep the lead.
“The defense was terrific and that was our off-season focus,” Giannini said. “It is harder said than done, but our guys did a great job. We went to more help (on defense) and had a lot of success.
“Coach got on us because at one point they were shooting 60% from the field,” Johnson said. “We needed to get stops. Then we went on a run.”
“We were closing out with our hands up and not letting them get good looks.”
Next up for the Explorers will be a quick turnaround as they will face Penn at the Palestra on Monday.
PRIOR TO THE GAME LA SALLE REMEMBERED TWO YOUNG EXPLORERS
The game was played by the Explorers with heavy hearts as the University mourned the loss of two students pass away during the week. The students were remembered. The coach and players showed the proper perspective in a sad situation and a very difficult time.
“Our campus is in mourning and our team is too,” said Giannini. “We have a job to do, but putting the ball in the basket is nothing compared to what those families are going through. People lost beautiful, young daughters. No one’s family is helped or hurt because we won or lost this game. Anyone here who is a parent cannot believe what happened this week. We want to acknowledge these families and let them know how much we love them and cherish the memories of their daughters.
Written By: Glenn Papazian