Jeff McDevitt (@JeffMcDev)
La Salle guard Tyrone Garland had his coming out party on Thursday night, scoring 26 points and leading the Explorers to victory over the Iona Gaels 88-74.
La Salle (7-2) knew they were going to have to score in bunches to beat Iona (5-5). Helping out offensively was Ramon Galloway who scored all of his 21 points in the first half help the Explorers keep up with Iona’s frantic full-court press defense and high-octane offense. Galloway also finished with a career high 10 assists. Jerrell Wright finished 13 points and eight rebounds.
“We beat a very good team. They are hard to play against because of their speed and aggressiveness. These are two teams headed in the right way, and that’s why I feel so good about coming away with a victory.” La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini said after the win.
Virginia Tech transfer and John Bartrum High School graduate Tyrone Garland is the 3rd all time leading scorer in Philadelphia Public League history, with 2,198 career points. NCAA transfer rules did not allow Garland to take the floor for LaSalle until December 15th.
Thursday was Garland’s first home game for the Explorers, and he certainly made the most of the opportunity at one point scoring 14 straight points midway through the 2nd half to put the game away for La Salle. Garland could not find his stroke in the first half though, as he shot 0-5 from three point range.
“It was good being back home in front of the fans and family,” Garland said. “I started out making a house (with bricks) but they told me to keep shooting.”
“The scouting report on him was they played 50 feet off of him and left him open, and that’s an uncomfortable position to be in, you are out of rhythm, not used to being that open,” Giannini said. Garland did get comfortable, shooting 7-12 in the 2nd half.
“We know they are shots he can make. They were giving him wide open shots. I kept telling him to keep shooting.” Ramon Galloway said.
Senior guard Ramon Galloway is La Salle’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, but in the second half when La Salle pulled away from Iona he only shot once, and ended up with a career high 10 assists.
“Today our leading scorer passed, he defended and led, I thought it was his best game as a basketball player, was him in the second half,” Giannini said.
“In the second half I felt like I didn’t want to force anything, so I was just looking for my teammates and they were wide open, they were doing a great job of cutting and getting open,” Galloway said.
La Salle knew Iona wanted this game to be a shootout, and if they wanted to stop the Gaels, they had to slow down their dynamic backcourt of Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Sean Armand, the 6th and 22nd leading scorers in Division 1 respectfully. Thankfully for Coach Giannini his backcourt had the athleticism to match up with Iona, neutralizing Iona’s backcourt and holding the duo to a combined for 34 points. La Salle’s guards also held normally sharp shooting Iona to 5-23 from three point range.
The Explorers seemed to welcome the torrid pace of the game as they also like to get in transition, but even one of La Salle’s fastest players in transition could admit that the pace of the game got to him.
“I was tired in the first half, I don’t know about y’all. I felt like I was going to die. We went for a stretch of two straight minutes, the one where I dove for the ball and I didn’t even want to get up. There was media timeout or something, I was happy,” Tyreek Duren said. Duren finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 36 minutes of play.
Iona was led by David Laury III, transfer of their own playing in his first game for the Gaels. The JUCO transfer had 21 points and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes of action. Laury III transferred from junior college in East Orange, NJ, bue he originally committed to Iona in 2009, then decided to go to Lamar State –Port Author (Tx.), recommitted to Iona in the Fall 2011.
“Obviously Laury is going to be unbelievably good, knowing him as a South Jersey kid for years, they’ve gotten him in great shape, and his stat line is amazing for his first game going against a good team on the road,” Giannini said.
The Explorers next game is against Sacred Heart, Saturday at 2 P.M.