Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
If the motto is “live by the three, die by the three,” La Salle was very much alive Saturday afternoon. The Explorers dominated Fordham from the opening tip, crushing the Rams 89-53 at Tom Gola Arena.
La Salle started the game on fire from beyond the arc, as they drained their first eight shots from downtown. While they did miss a few, the Explorers continued to take, and make their threes. They took 33 shots from downtown, and connected on 18 of them, good for 54.5 percent.
“We were terrific Defensively, offensively, we were just terrific,” Dr. John Giannini said. “(Some games) you miss a lot of shots and people ask you ‘Are you concerned?’ I say, well we didn’t shoot it today but some day we are going to make 50, 60, 70 percent of our threes and it all evens out in the end.
“Well this is one of those days where they all went in.”
The Explorers had a school record tying 18 three-pointers on the day, with the 18th coming from walk on O.J. Lewis with just over five minutes remaining in the game. The previous record was set in the 1991 season in which they made the NCAA tournament. Five different players hit a shot from beyond the arc for La Salle.
“As far as guards, thats all we really work on,” Tyreek Duren said. “Every morning we are in the gym shooting early, getting shots up. I know we have been on a little cold streak lately, so for us to get that out of our system feels real good.”
Sam Mills got back on the right track shooting-wise against Fordham. The guard who was averaging just over seven points a game coming in went off for 21 points. He was 7-for-8 from beyond the arc to contribute to his career high scoring day. He was one of four Explorers in double figures on Saturday.
“This whole year I have been trying to work on it more and more, and I kind of struggled in the beginning, but I was feeling more confortable,” Mills said of his career day.
“He is a career 40 percent three point shooter,” Giannini said. “He is a career double figures scorer. Sometimes you’re confused when a guy does not shoot the way he normally does, but you don’t make a big deal out of it and sooner or later they get going again. That’s what has happened with Sam the last few games. He actually shot it very well against George Washington too.”
Ramon Galloway had 19 points for the Explorers on 6-for-9 shooting, including 5-for-7 from downtown. Duren made all five of his field goal attempts, including four from behind the arc to have a quiet 16 points on the day. Neither Galloway or Duren played for the final ten minutes of the game.
Fordham was led by Jermaine Myers and Travion Leonard, who both had 10 points and two rebounds for the Rams. Fordham’s leading scorer Brenden Frazier was held to just two points on 1-for-10 shooting. The Rams did not have a good shooting day, as they shot just 34 percent from the field, and 19 percent from downtown.
“Ramon deserves a lot of credit for that,” Giannini said about Frazier’s two points. “The whole team does, but thats where Ramon really excelled. He just did a great job against him. We know he is a terrific player, we know he is an absolute key for their team, and we challenged our guys and they met the challenge. The one who did an especially good job because he was on him most of the time was Ramon Galloway.”
La Salle opened up their biggest lead of the day with 11:46 remaining in the game when the Explorers went up 76-31. The 45 point lead prompted Giannini to put all five starters on the bench for the remainder of the game.
The first half was all La Salle. The Explorers took a 56-25 lead into the locker room, mostly due to going 13-for-19 (68.4 percent) from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. They attempted just 14 shots that were not from beyond the arc. They made six of those, to give them a total of 19-for-33 (57.6 percent) in the first half.
Fordham, on the other hand, did not shoot the ball well in the first half. They made just 10 of their 27 attempts (37 percent), and were just 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. They were led by Mandell Thomas with nine points in the first 20 minutes.
La Salle jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first six minutes of a game in which they never trailed, and was never close. La Salle dominated on the boards, and only turned the ball over three times in the first half. Fordham had seven turnovers, and just 13 team rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Fordham was once again without Chris Gaston, who was out with a knee injury. The senior forward had 35 points and 16 rebounds in the Rams win over La Salle last season. Fordham has not won a game on the road since December of 2011.
La Salle will head north to Olean, New York to take on St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. Game time is set for 7 p.m.