PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/18/2014 – A jammed packed Palestra, loud, the rooting sections split evenly. Every play cheered, rollouts,every shot challenged, every loose ball contested, and a game that was not decided until late. It was Big Five college basketball at the Palestra, they way it was then and now. In the end the La Salle Explorers (11 – 6) ended their eight game losing streak against the Temple Owls (5 – 11) 74 – 68. The day will be remembered as an Explorer win, ESPN Game Day was here, and the nation saw what we in Philadelphia have seen over many years. An afternoon to be treasured, for the game and for the setting. The coaches understood.
“What a great atmosphere,” exclaimed La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t want this tradition to continue. It was an awesome experience. There is nothing else like it. It was terrific. The game itself was a true battle. They (Temple) are hard to stop and we had to battle our hearts out, and were fortunate to get the win.”
“I thought it was great,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said about the atmosphere and playing in this venue. “When we got here today the craziness was there. It was great to be here. It was part of what Philadelphia is about. We were proud to be a part of it.”
The game lived up to the expectations as well. La Salle held a five point halftime lead, a lead they kept throughout. However, an under manned Owls team missing point guard Will Cummings stayed in the game. The Explorers took a 13 point lead at 59 – 46 with 9:46 to play. The Owls battled back behind a 14 – 5 run to get to within 4 at 64 – 60 on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey who scored a game-high 21 points. La Salle answered with a corner jumper by senior guard Tyrone Garland, the ball went in as the shot clock expired. A three-pointer by senior guard Tyreek Duren gave La Salle control with a 69 – 62 lead. The crowd was treated to more excitement as the Owls scored 6 of the next 7 points to pull to within 70 – 68 with 39 seconds on the clock. Free throws by Duren and Garland ended the scoring.
“Every game we played them was a close game where we ended up losing,” said Duren about finally beating Temple. “For us to close that game out meant a lot not only for me but for the La Salle community as a whole.”
Duren led the Explorers with 20 points and a game-high 7 assists. Garland added 17 points. Senior forward Jerrell Wright scored 15 points. Senior center Steve Zack recorded his 10th double-double scoring 10 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Zack leads the Atlantic 10 in both categories.
For the Owls senior guard Dalton Pepper scored 15 points. Sophomore forward Devontae Watson set a career mark in rebounds with 7. Junior forward Anthony Lee scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. Despite this being the sixth loss in a row, Lee can recollect more than a score.
“The atmosphere was great. There were alumni and celebrities in the building, everybody that has been a part of this special day.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian