Former Explorers young and old alike, packed the Tom Gola today for La Salle’s Homecoming match versus the Siena Saints.
The Saints came into the game with a record of 0-2, having fallen to both Vermont and University of Albany; they were hungry for a win. But playing in front of a large home crowd would only be fuel for the Explorers who slid past Siena (78-74).
The first half of the game was defined by an impressive offense by Siena. Evan Hymes and Rob Poole would give the Saints seven points each. The Saints would dominate in threes, finishing the first half 5-6.
The Saints would take the lead at the half 42-38. Despite his inconsistency Tyrone Garland would lead the Explorers the 9 points and two assists, followed by D.J. Peterson with six points and two assists.
The second half would start off with Sam Mills making a two, but the team would fall into an offensive struggle, unable to get baskets from behind the arc and off the boards.
La Salle lacked interior defense and the Saints continued to drive the ball and score. The Saints led most of the game, their largest lead at 60-51 with 9:30 to go.
The Explorers would hang on with Jerrell Wright making free throws, until Tyreek Duren was finally able to find his shot making two three pointers in under a minute, making the game 64-66 at 5:32.
Duren denied making any adjustments from the first half to the second half in his overall play. “I told myself to keep shooting and they’ll fall eventually.”
In the last minutes of play, things would finally come together for the Explorers. The team would go on a 10-2 run, scoring points while drawing fouls. Basic shooting mistakes by Siena would end the Saints momentum. La Salle would take the game, 78-74.
Duren stated the change in momentum in those last minutes was due to more intensity on defense. The senior said everyone on the bench kept saying to just keep shooting and that eventually shots would fall in.
“We did everything we could to win the game in the last five to six minutes,” said Coach Dr. John Giannini on the win.
Duren would again be the lead scorer for the game with 20 points. He was followed by Wright with 15 and Mills with 13.
La Salle did not put up great offensive stats once again. They shot 37.5 percent from the field, and had a 26.1 percent average on three pointers.
Giannini said the team struggled to make easy shots and stated he was glad they survived. Giannini attributed the win to the leadership of Duren.
“I told Tyreek, you have to will us to the win, and he did that,” said Giannini.
Despite reports that Khalid Lewis wouldn’t play until tuesday, the redshirt sophomore made his debut for the Explorers today, giving them some much needed pressure on defense. Lewis would not see much game time playing for eight minutes and he finished 1-2 from the field.
“Lewis brings the aggressiveness on defense that Ramone Galloway had,” said Duren.
Giannini commented that Lewis was able to play because he was cleared by the doctors as long his hand was wrapped.
“I think he’s a great defender and he is going to be a big part of this team,” said Giannini.
La Salle won the rebound game today 39-38. Wright led with 11. Wright mentioned being disappointed in making only three defensive rebounds compared to eight offensively, but Giannini was pleased with the rebounds today.
This tuesday Nov. 16 La Salle will play at Penn State. The game plan to defeat the Nittany lions, “Defense. Defense. Defense,” said Giannini. Tip off is at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN3.