Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
Tyreek Duren always says that he is a “pass first” guard. While he may look to pass first, it was his shooting that led his Explorers past Penn State at the Palestra on Wednesday night by a score of 82-57.
Duren set a career high of 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting to push La Salle to 5-1 on the season. He also added four assists and committed just one turnover for the Explorers.
Duren was the star of the show for the Explorers in the early going, scoring 15 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting. He also added 3 assists in the first 20 minutes. He slowed down a bit after halftime, but came back to life midway through the second half. He ended the half with 14, including his own 12-0 run in just over two minutes mid-way through the second half.
“We’ve expected that from him, and we continue to expect that from him,” Dr. John Giannini said of Duren. “He is a wonderful player and he is one of the best guards in America. We like our guards as a group against anyone. We think they are that good. We expect them to have great games.”
(Complete effort: For more on La Salle’s best game so far, read Josh Verlin’s sidebar here)
“Duren, I’ve loved ever since I watched him play at Neuman-Goretti,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “He is lightning fast. He played terriffic. He is a heck of a player. And he is only a junior. Scary.”
Jermaine Marshall led Penn State (4-4) offensively, netting 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting. He also had three assists, but fouled out of the game. Ross Travis was the top rebounder for Penn State with nine, and also contributed 12 points on the night.
“I see it in practice every day so it doesn’t surprise me,” Chambers said. “Ross is very capable That is the Ross Travis that we need on a daily basis. He does it in practice every day, it is the first time he has done it in a game.”
Penn State was down for much of the first half, and all of the second half. The Nittany Lions went on a run that brought the score to 43-41 in favor of La Salle with 15:33 remaining in the game. The Explorers then went on a 25-5 run that spanned just under eight minutes to build a 68-46 lead with 7:52 remaining, led by Duren.
“In any college game when you get an early lead I think most of the time the team is going to make that run,” Duren said. “Basketball is a game of runs. Penn State even came back a little, it’s just how you weather the storm. I think we weathered the storm today, and came back with an even bigger run.”
The Explorers used a plethora of 3-point shooting to get past Penn State, taking 31 threes and draining 16 of them (51.6 percent). Penn State did not fare as well from beyond the arc, accounting for just three on 12 attempts (25 percent). La Salle ended the game shooting 49 percent for the game (24-for-49), while Penn State finished at 44 percent (22-for-50).
Philadelphia native D.J Newbill struggled all night for Penn State, much due to the defense played by Ramon Galloway. The sophomore guard, who averages 14.7 points per game was held scoreless in the first half, and ended the game with just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Galloway had a solid outing, contributing 14 points and four assists.
“Coach G told us our pressure will bother them,” Galloway said. “All year our pressure has been bothering everybody, even if the team had a point guard. It wins for us. It is the key to winning games. For me, I felt like it was a personal game too, just knowing him all my life and growing up with him. Playing against him all the time. Any time we play against any Philly player we take pride because even La Salle and our reputation is on the line.”
After a Mills 3-pointer rimmed out in the first half, La Salle teammate Taylor Dunn came over to Mills and told him it was a good shot and to keep shooting. That is what Mills did, as he found his touch against the Nittany Lions, scoring 14 points in 35 minutes for the Explorers. He was 4-for-8 from the field, all of which were from beyond the arc.
“We believe in him,” Giannini said of Mills. “We want him out there. He is just rock solid. We kind of want Sam to be a little more aggressive, and we keep try to get a little more out of him, but all Sam does is defend, share the ball, be strong with the ball, not turn it over, and do a bunch of things that helps us win games.”
Sasa Borovnjak had his best game of the young season, contributing eight points and nine rebounds for the Nittany Lions. He contributed 26 minutes, which is his second highest total of the season.
“Sasa is up and down. We need a more constant Sasa,” Chambers said. “He is a senior now and he needs to get that done. He will continue to do that, he will. But we need to defend and rebounds, we need to play harder.”
Both Galloway and Wright picked up two fouls early in the first half, and saw limited playing time in the first 20 minutes of action. Galloway checked back into the game with eight and a half minutes remaining. He picked up his third foul with 1:40 remaining in the first half. D.J. Peterson started the second half in his place until he checked in with 15:33 remaining in the game.
“I think it was dramatic effect on the game,” Giannini said about Galloway’s foul trouble. “He is a high impact player, and he was really frustrated because he is a Philly kid playing a great program like Penn State in the Palestra. He was extremely excited and didn’t really get a chance to play much that first half. I give the guys that we have credit for stepping up and getting us the lead at halftime with Ramon in that foul trouble.”
La Salle travels to Northeastern on Saturday December 8 at 7 p.m. Penn State returns back home to State College to take on Army, also on the 8th. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.