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.
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.
Tags: Big Five
, Jerrell Wright
, Ramon Galloway
, Steve Zack
, Tyreek Duren