Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
For the second year in a row, Villanova and La Salle needed extra time to determine a winner in the first Big 5 match-up of the year. Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren propelled La Salle to a 77-74 overtime victory over Villanova, despite outstanding performances from JayVaughn Pinkston and Mouphtaou Yarou.
D. J. Peterson found Duren on a backdoor cut that gave La Salle a 75-74 lead with 18.2 seconds remaining in overtime. Steve Zack secured a rebound with six seconds remaining, and hit a pair of free throws to put the Explorers up 77-74.
“In my mind I was thinking I was going to miss it, that’s how wide open I was. I’m glad I got over it,” Duren said about the game winning lay-up.
“Thats exactly how he (La Salle coach John Giannini) drew it up, but I didn’t think I was going to be that wide open because the whole game the help defense was there. So I was pretty much surprised,” Duren added.
The Wildcats had a chance to tie with a 3-pointer, but Pinkston inexplicably drove the length of the court for a lay-up as the buzzer sounded. His shot came after the final horn, and still would have left Villanova a point short.
(Nova newcomers: To read Andrew Koob’s sidebar on Villanova’s new guards, click here)
Duren finished with a season-high 23 points and five assists on the day, but it was the timing of the points that was so impressive.
“He was awesome,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said about Duren. “Thats what great point guards do. I was very, very impressed. He has had good games against us in the past…I thought he was great. I really do. I thought he controlled the game. There was a lot of times where we tried to make him take a tough shot, and he wouldn’t take the tough shot. He wold keep the ball and finish at the rim. He did a really good job.”
After Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono converted on one of two attempts with under 30 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a three-point lead, Duren hit a three point shot with seven seconds remaining to tie the game, and send it to overtime.
“One of the things I loved about Tyreek when recruiting him was his poise,” Giannini said. “He is always the same; no matter how big the moment is, he is always the same. So it doesn’t surprise me that he would make big plays or big shots.”
Galloway single-handedly provided a spark for La Salle midway through the second half. In a span of two minutes he completed an and-one, and then quickly dove on the floor for a loose ball that resulted in the Explorers regaining possession. He then drove to the center of the lane and hit a floating jump shot to pull the deficit to 46-45, and came up with a steal which resulted in Zack going to the line and hitting one of two to tie the game at 46.
“I was open, and my teammates passed me the ball at the right time,” Galloway said. “We practice that every day: Pass it to the open guy when they’re open, and if you feel confident, shoot the ball. My teammates had confidence in me, and passed the ball to me, and I had confidence shooting.”
(Better late than never: To read Andrew Albert’s sidebar on La Salle ending a 10-year drought against Villanova, click here)
Galloway then took over the game for the Explorers again at the six-minute mark. He scored nine straight points to keep the home team within striking distance of Villanova. Any time La Salle would gain any momentum, it seemed that Pinkston or Yarou was there to put in a bucket to extend the lead.
Galloway finished the game with a season-high 26 points, and also added four assists for the Explorers. He and Duren combined to score 20 of the last 24 points of the game.
“It was obviously a great win, and a great college basketball game,” Giannini said. “We had to come from behind in regulation and we had to come from behind in overtime. I just thought our guys showed tremendous resilience…We had a lot to overcome, so I am real proud of our guys ”
Pinkston, who came off the bench behind Maurice Sutton, added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. He was edged in the points category by teammate Yarou, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
“We were playing JayVaughn at the three,” Wright said on the decision to start Sutton. “I thought he did a really good job coming off the bench today. When you do that, you move other people around. We are trying to get Tony and Ryan in simple spots doing the same thing, comfortable, so that’s really what it was. That way we keep JayVaughn at the forward spot, we are not moving back and forth. We don’t move him back, but we keep Tony. Tony has to play the one and the two, and Arch has to play the one and the two, and we are really trying to keep it simply for those two. JayVaughn understands and is great with it, and you can tell by the way he played tonight.”
Villanova used a 19-4 run over about eight minutes to establish a lead on the Explorers in the first half, which they sustained for much of the second half as well. Pinkston led that charge for the Wildcats after he checked into the game for the first time with just over 14 minutes remaining in the half. He added nine points and four rebounds in his 10 minutes of action in the first half. The Wildcats led 34-30 at the midway point.
The Wildcats used a barrage of offensive rebounds in the first half, and converted on many of their second opportunities. Villanova totaled eight offensive rebounds, adding to their 13 defensive for a total of 21. La Salle managed 15 rebounds in the first half, with Zack leading with seven.
La Salle was not effective with their shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, making just three of their 12 attempts (25 percent). Galloway buried all three makes, and led the Explorers with 11 points at the break. Wright was right behind his teammate with 10 points and three rebounds. As a team, they shot 34.5% overall for the first half on 10-29 shooting. Villanova shot a little better from the field, shooting 46.7% (14-for-30) from the floor.
La Salle’s starters stayed out of foul trouble in the first half, recording one apiece for a team total of five. While Villanova totaled nine in the first half, only James Bell and Hilliard recorded more than one, both getting whistled twice.
The second half was a different story for both teams, especially for La Salle.
Wright picked up his third foul of the game with 17:24 remaining in the game, and was sent to the bench until the 11:32 mark. He quickly picked up his fourth, just 19 seconds later, and returned to the bench. He re-entered the game with 7:11 remaining. He fouled out of the game with 4:28 left, having not scored a point or recorded a rebound in the second half. He finished the game with 10 points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
“We had some rough spots,” Giannini said. “I thought Jerrell getting in foul trouble was something that he had to overcome. They are so strong, and they hurt us on the offensive glass.”
Zack managed to fill the rebounding void left when Wright went out of the game, as he finished the game with 14 rebounds, including the one that sealed the win for the Explorers. He also contributed eight points on 2-of-6 shooting.
“It was a matter of battling, trying to be the stronger guy,” Zack said. “I work out everyday against Jermaine Davis, who is 6-10, Garvin Hunt, who is 6-10, Jerrell Wright is 6-9, so it (the size) was really nothing new to see, it was just different guys. It was definitely a battle.”
La Salle has a few days off before they travel to Rider on Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m. Villanova has a bit more of a layoff before they take on SEC opponent Vanderbilt on December 1st. That game is part of the Big East/SEC Challenge, and will be shown on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.