Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
“Satisfied competitors aren’t as good as hungry ones.”
Dr. John Giannini said it quite simply after his teams 80-71 victory over Boise State is the first round of the NCAA tournament. La Salle has more to accomplish, and that starts with their 3 a.m. flight to Kansas City for the second round of the tournament.
“The boardwalk on a fishing trip, I’ll probably be more satisfied, but right now we really want to get ready for Kansas State,” Giannini said. “It is important, but we’re still playing. So it’s not time to be satisfied. But at some point I definitely will.”
While Giannini has a point, La Salle does have a reason to be satisfied, if only for tonight. Four different players scored in double figures in the Explorers first win in the NCAA tournament since the Lionel Simmons era in 1990. The were led by Tyrone Garland off the bench. Every time the Explorers needed a big shot, Garland came up with it. The Virginia Tech transfer went off for 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting to lead the Explorers to victory.
“It was amazing,” Garland said. “I was just feeding off my coach and my teammates. They were telling me to be aggressive and keep shooting, and thats what I was doing. Coach just said share the ball, share the ball, and that’s how we got open shots.”
The Explorers came out ready to shoot the ball against the Broncos, and shoot they did. They shot a blistering 31-for-49 (63.3 percent) from the field against the man to man defense of Boise State. Where La Salle really did their damage was from beyond the arc. The team combined to shoot 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from beyond the arc. The Explorers went 16-for-22 in the second half (72.7 percent) to put away the Broncos.
“Overall, I though we shared the ball pretty good,” Sam Mills said. “Coach G wants us to do that with our guards. We were able to get open looks, and we were just hitting our shots today.”
La Salle’s guard tandem of Ramon Galloway and Mills also had significant impacts on the game. Mills found his way out of a shooting slump to knock down five shots from beyond the arc, and score 15 points. Galloway, who has had rough outings the past two games, exploded for 21 points and four assists on the day.
“Coach G told me that I just have to be myself, and don’t force it,” Galloway said. “The last two games I feel as though I was forcing it because I wasn’t getting going on offense. So Coach G and I had a meeting, and he said just relax, and play your game…Eventually it started to fall, and I was happy because I was in a slump, but I just wanted my team to win. I wanted to do it for my teammates and La Salle.”
La Salle had no answer for Anthony Drmic for Boise State. The sophomore guard, who averages just over 17 points per game, found his shot whenever he wanted to. He got to the hole effectively, as well as drained shots from beyond the arc when they were presented to him. He single handedly kept the Broncos in the game with his 28 points.
“It doesn’t matter when you don’t play defense,” Drmic said of his night. “If you are scoring on one end and you can’t get stops on the other, it doesn’t matter. I tried. We all tried. But we just couldn’t get it together defensively.”
Derrick Marks came to life for Boise State in the second half. Heading out of the locker room, the Broncos second leading scorer only managed two points on four shots, and turned the ball over four times. The second half was an entirely different story. He was much more agressive, and managed 12 points in the second half alone to give him a total of 14.
While Marks and Drmic were the catalysis for the Broncos on offense, they shot the ball well overall. They went 26-for-53 (49.1 percent) from the field, and 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) from beyond the arc. Boise State also managed to out-rebound the Explorers 29 to 22.
In the beginning stages of the second half, La Salle really tried to get Jerrell Wright involved on the offensive end of the court. He got the ball five times in a row in the post, and managed to score eight points in the first 4:17 of the second half. He finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
The first half was an impressive showing by La Salle. The Explorers shot very well from the field in the first half, especially from beyond the arc. Their hot shooting built them a first half lead as big as 14, capped by a vicious Garland to Galloway ally-oop. Boise State put together their own run to pull back within striking distance, trimming the deficit to 35-27 at halftime.
La Salle cooled down as the half went on, but they still managed to go 15-for-27 (55.6 percent) from the field in the first twenty minutes of action. They were consistent from beyond the arc, draining five of their 12 attempts from downtown. Garland led the way off the bench in the first half for the Explorers, contributing 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting. His only miss was from beyond the arc. Mills also had a good half for La Salle, adding 9 points, all via the deep ball.
The Explorers forced nine Boise State turnovers in the first half, which is unusual as the Broncos only average around 12 turnovers per game. La Salle translated those nine turnovers into 14 points, including seven on the fast break.
“In the first half, we were just getting sped up,” Marks said. “I fell into that as well.”
Boise State did not shoot the ball poorly in the first half, but found themselves down for most of the half. They were 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from the field, but missed a few bunnies that could have drawn them closer. They only took five shots from beyond the arc, and made two of them, good for 40 percent.
“We didn’t keep it close enough,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “It’s easier to shoot when you’ve got a team at arms length, like they had us.”
The Broncos were led in the first 20 minutes by Drmic, who was also nursing an apparent knee injury early in the first half. He still managed 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, while going 1-for-3 from beyond the arc. He was joined by Watkins, who had eight points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting in the first half. He also grabbed three rebounds, adding to the Broncos rebounding advantage. Boise State outrebounded La Salle 14 to 11.
The Explorers will now travel to Kansas City, Missouri to take on Kansas State on Friday at 3:10 p.m.