It was an odd morning at 20th and Olney; one it was snowing, two there was basketball at breakfast time.
For the second time in La Salle’s history the team got to be a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon playing Quinnipiac at 9 a.m.
The key to this game was maintaining an offense and rebounding. La Salle would hang on to the lead, (73-67), capturing their first win of the season.
“I was pretty direct that we weren’t going to lose two games in a row,” said head coach Dr. John Giannini.
A 9 a.m. start time is rare in college basketball and both teams struggled to make buckets in the beginning of the game but Tyreek Duren utilized his speed capturing two steals in the first two minutes of play. Jerrell Wright followed with a block.
For players the last time they had played in such an early game was for AAU basketball, but Duren claimed playing in the early morning hours wasn’t a problem.
“We treated it like a weekend practice,” he said.
Taylor Dunn would be the first to claim a three pointer with five to go in the first half. Both teams had an equal field goal percentage but Quinnipiac had the upper hand in three’s with La Salle only making 1-6.
Right before the half Sam Mills was on the sidelines getting his ankle taped. It is questionable if Mills has fully recovered from a sprained ankle as he was playing slow in the first half, but he fired up the offense in the second half draining a three at 16 minutes.
The Bobcats would take their first lead of the game at 47-46 with just under 12 minutes to go. The game would remain tight until Steve Zack would get a tip-in shot (60-56). The Explorers began to make free throws giving themselves an advantage. The game would end on a high note when Quinnipiac’s Kasim Chandler missed a layup allowing Tyrone Garland to take the ball back for a dunk.
The team did step up their defense which is what Giannini wanted, but scoring was an issue for La Salle today. “Everything about this stat sheet is terrific except that we only made 38 percent of our shots,” said Giannini.
Rebounding was a major concern for La Salle after being dominated by Manhattan last Saturday. Going into the game, the Explorers knew they were up against one of the top two rebounding teams in the country. La Salle was able to maintain staying even with Quinnipiac on rebounds until with three minutes to go the margin was 41-39 in favor of the Bobcats. The Explorers would end up tying the Bobcats with 43 rebounds at the final, no doubt a main reason la Salle pulled off the win. This ended Quinnipiac’s 33 game streak of out-rebounding their opponents.
Duren claimed that rebounding was a challenge Giannini had put in front of the team this past week. “Coach said start making rebounds, or we’ll start making changes in the lineup.”
Both Zack and Wright did step up their rebound game. Wright posted 12 rebounds for a total of 11 points. The junior had two blocks and only had one personal foul. Zack had six rebounds for 15 points and went 7-11 in the field.
Duren finished the game as the lead scorer with 17 points and three steals.
Garland did not start for the Explorers today. Giannini stated he started players whom he thought were doing better at rebounding. Garland would still get 27 minutes of play, in which he made 12 points and finished the game with an aggressive defensive play, jumping sky high to get a rebound.
“I am pleased with him,” Giannini said
La Salle returns to the Tom Gola again this Saturday Nov. 16. to take on the Sienna Saints for the Explorers homecoming game at 3 p.m.