Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
La Salle used a blistering hot first ten minutes to outlast the Rider Brocs 63-52 Thursday night in Lawrenceville.
La Salle opened the game on a 24-6 run, mostly due to the sharp 3-point shooting of Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren, who each hit two in the first seven minutes of play. The Explorers were 8-for-12 from the field in the first eight minutes, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Both Galloway and Duren had 10 points in the first 20 minutes, combining to shoot 7-for 12 from the field in the first half. Galloway finished the game with 17 points, while Duren added 20 points and six assists for the Explorers.
“I think we were just amped,” Duren said. “G (Dr. John Giannini) was praising this game all week. He said we beat ‘Nova, but the great teams, after a big win, they come back and get another big win instead of losing the next game. So he has been big on this game all week. I think everybody took that to heart.”
“We used to do that last year, and thats what we need to get back into,” Galloway said of the last start. “Just taking people out of it, guarding 94 feet and pressuring everybody, it felt good to go up, but we are kind of used to that because we did that last year, we are just trying to get back to pressure and heart, and playing as a team.”
The Explorers’ shooting cooled down as the first half went on as they ended the half shooting 54.2 percent (13-for-24) from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-for-14) from beyond the arc.
Their percentages continued to decline as the game progressed, as their overall field goal percentage dipped to 45.8 percent for the game, due to 9-for-24 shooting in the second half. The Explorers hit just one 3-point shot on their seven attempts in the second half. They finished at 33.3 percent (7-for-21) for the game.
“After the game when I said ‘why did we struggle so much offensively in the second half?’ and we were like we expended so much energy on the defensive end,” Giannini said.
The Explorers lead shrunk to as little as 49-43 with 7:45 remaining in the game before Galloway hit a floater in the lane, and then his third 3-point shot of the game to give the Explorers a little more breathing room.
The Rider charge was led by the duo of Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart in the second half. Myles scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. Myles also added seven rebounds to his stat lines. Stewart was active on the glass for the Broncs, collecting seven rebounds to go along with his 12 points on the night.
Galloway did a good job defending Rider’s leading scorer Nurideen Lindsey, holding him to five points on the game, well below his season average of 15.6 points per game. As a team, La Salle forced 18 turnovers, with Lindsey leading Rider with five turnovers on the night.
“He was the main focus,” Galloway said about Lindsey. “Coach G emphasized that if we take their guards out of play, we have a big chance of winning. He really challenged me, Reek and Sam, all the guards on the team that if we don’t give them any threes and don’t let them get into the paint and kick out, then we’ll win the game.”
“A lot of teams don’t really pressure 94 feet,” Galloway added. “We do that all day, everyday in practice. We are always going at each other, not letting each other go up easy. Pressuring takes people out of their rhythm. Your used to just coming down with no pressure, but when you get turned and things like that, it takes you out of your rhythm.”
The Broncs closed the first half on their own 9-0 run that pulled the score to 34-23, which is where it stood at the half. Rider shot 39.3 percent from the field in the first half on 11-of-28 shooting. Stewart was the leading scorer for the Broncs in the first half, contributing five points and three rebounds. In over 11 minutes of gameplay, from 6:21 remaining in the first half to fewer than 15 minutes left in the second, the Explorers scored just seven points, which let Rider back into the game.
La Salle was out-rebounded once again, as Rider pulled down 33 boards as opposed to the Explorers 31. The Broncs had more offensive rebounds (8-5), but the teams took the same amount of shots on the game (48).
The low post presence was not as big as usual for the Explorers, as both Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright had off nights offensively. Zack netted just three points, and grabbed four rebounds while Wright added six points on 3-of-8 shooting, and collected eight boards.
“My expectations for Jerrell before he played a game here was that he’d be one of the most productive players I have ever coached,” Giannini said. “I thought defensively he played behind the post too much tonight. I thought he didn’t help out on ball screens well enough, but I have the highest expectations for Jerrell. I expect him to be a really outstanding player, and I think he could play better.”
The Explorers have six days off before they match-up against Penn State on December 5 at the Palestra. Game time is 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.