Following Emotional Week, La Salle Loses at Home to UMass, 61-60

La Salle's Tyreek Duren made a late bucket to give the Explorers a late lead but couldn't hold on for the victory.Just when you thought the La Salle Explorers were going to continue their climb up the Atlantic-10 standings and eventually find themselves nationally ranked after defeating two Top 25 teams last week in Butler and VCU, a team like the University of Massachusetts Minutemen come into Tom Gola Arena and knock them right back down to earth.
La Salle (14-6 overall, 4-3 A10) found themselves down 33-27 at halftime, but clawed back into the game and took a 51-50 lead with 8 minutes remaining, its first lead since being up 8-6 early in the first half.  The Minutemen’s Maxie Esho threw down a momentous dunk with 4:30 left in the game to give UMass (14-5, 4-2 A10) a 57-54 lead, but the Explorers tightened up defensively after that and held the visitors to just two points over the next 3 ½ minutes.  Tyreek Duren’s contested layup with 38 seconds remaining gave the Explorers a 60-59 lead, and it appeared as though the home team would survive the scare.
The Minutemen, however, put the ball in the hands of their trusty point guard, Chaz Williams, who entered the night averaging just over 16 points a game, and asked him to make a play.  He did just that, springing a leak in La Salle’s defense en-route to the go-ahead and eventual game winning bucket, and UMass led 61-60 with just 8 seconds left.  The Explorers’ advanced the ball but couldn’t come away with a clean look at the basket, and the game was over.
Williams finished with six points, six assists and six rebounds for UMass, who improved to an impressive 6-1 on the road.  Raphiael Putney added 16 points, and Maxie Esho chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Jerrell Wright tied a team-high with 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor, and added six rebounds and a block for La Salle.  Senior Ramon Galloway filled the stat sheet recording 16 points on 7 of 18 shooting, with six boards, six assists and three steals.  Duren chipped in with 10 points and Sophomore Steve Zack hauled in a team-high nine rebounds and two blocks.
The size and length of UMass’ front court affected the Explorers all night long and held a 37-32 team rebounding advantage, including 14 offensive rebounds which were converted into 15 second-chance points.
La Salle will look to start another winning streak on Saturday, February 2nd, when they travel to Washington D.C. to take on the George Washington Colonials (10-9, 4-2 A10), tipping off at 2:00 PM.
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Andrew Dalton

Andrew grew up and still resides right outside Philadelphia in Montgomery County and has been a die-hard Philly sports fan for as long as he can remember. One of his earliest sports memories, unfortunately, was watching Joe Carter hit the World Series winning homerun off Mitch Williams in 1993 with his Dad. All that did however, was make the Phils' 2008 World Championship that much sweeter. You can follow him on Twitter @dutch4885.