PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/25/2012 – It had been since November of 2001 that the LaSalle Explorers had beaten the Villanova Wildcats in a Big Five basketball game. The last two years had been frustrating to the Explorers as Villanova came from behind to win the game. This season it appeared that Villanova would hang on and continue their winning streak, until LaSalle Junior guard Tyreek Duren made a three pointer with 7 seconds to play in regulation to send the game into overtime. In the extra period Duren made a back door layup with 18 seconds on the clock for the winning points as LaSalle defeated Villanova 77 – 74 in front of 3.091 at a rocking Gola Arena. The frustration ended for LaSalle against Villanova as they win the first Big Five game of the season, something of importance to the Explorers.
“The last two games we played them were opposite games where we were ahead and they came from behind and won,” said LaSalle Coach Dr. John Giannini. “Those last two years that really bothered us because we thought we were in position to win. Our guys showed a lot of grit and got us over the hump.”
Both teams played to their strength. LaSalle tried to keep defensive pressure on the ball and shoot the three-point shot. The Explorers forced 18 Wildcat turnovers to create a 29 – 9 advantage in points off turnovers. LaSalle was 9 – 26 (34.6%) from beyond the arc. Villanova tried to get the ball inside and was successful in doing so to get a 36 – 26 edge in points in the paint. Villanova big men were a combined 18 – 31 shooting. Both teams had runs, both teams responded. LaSalle Senior guard Ramon Galloway went on a scoring streak making 9 straight. He would score a game-high 26 points. But this game would be decided by which team would execute at the end of the game.
Villanova took a 59 – 53 lead with 6:18 remaining in regulation on a layup by Senior center Mouphtaou Yarou, who led Villanova in scoring with 20 points. LaSalle fought back to get to within 66 – 64 with 29 seconds on the clock. Wildcat Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono went to the free throw line at the 25.3 second mark missing the first but making the second. Missed foul shots would be costly for Villanova as they went 18 – 26 (69.2%) in the game. LaSalle went on offense looking to prolong the game. Villanova played hoping their defense would end it. Duren had the ball at the top of the key, looked, then raised up and converted a three at the 7 second mark to tie the game at 67. Duren would finish the game with 23 points. Villanova would not get a shot off as the buzzer sounded.
“I was actually looking to pass,” said Duren. “I was at the spot so I just said ‘shoot it.’ I knew we needed a three, so I just shot it.”
The overtime began with Villanova getting the tap and five shots into the possession later Sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston converted a three-point play to put his team ahead 70 – 67. The Wildcats would increase their lead to 4 points, but the Explorers kept fighting back. A layup by freshman forward Rohan Brown got LaSalle to within one at 74 – 73 with 56 seconds left to play. During a timeout Galloway felt one more defensive play would be the difference between winning and losing.
“I told the whole team that if we get this stop, we are going to win the game,” Galloway said. “We got the stop and we won the game.”
Following the timeout Duren would get a steal at the 32 second mark, and LaSalle set up their key possession. With 18 seconds to play Duren made a back door cut from the left-wing. Sophomore guard D.J. Peterson found him alone streaking to the basket. A wide open Duren converted and LaSalle had the lead.
“I was afraid I was going to miss it, that’s how open I was,” said Duren.
LaSalle Sophomore center Steve Zack rebounded a miss by Yarou, the biggest of his career-high 14 rebounds. He was fouled and converted two free throws for the final 77 – 74 lead. Villanova had one more chance to tie the game, but Pinkston drove toward the basket rather than pulling up for a three.
I wasn’t aware of time and score, so that’s my fault,” Pinkston said.
He missed and LaSalle won a thriller making the big plays late, plays that Villanova did not make that Coach Jay Wright felt cost his team the win.
“It was a classic example of one team executing down the stretch in regulation and the overtime, and the other team not executing,” said Wright. “We’ve got the learn from this and take responsibility. And give them (LaSalle) credit.”
The Explorers improve to 3 – 1 on the season, and are 1 – 0 in city series play. Most importantly, they finally end that losing streak against Villanova who is 3 – 3 this year.
“It means everything,” said Duren on the meaning of the win. ” Since I’ve been here we had been up the whole game, especially last year. We lost it at the end. For nine years we had that losing streak. It was important we got this win.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian