PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/3/2016 – The La Salle Explorers lost in their opening game in the Atlantic 10 Conference to Massachusetts 74 – 67 at the Tom Gola Arena. Junior guard Jordan Price led all scorers with 23 points, but it was not enough as La Salle lost their sixth straight game. The wins are coming said La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini.
“They (UMass) made some more shots and got some more loose balls and rebounds,” said Giannini. “They were just a little bit better. We need each guy to make an extra play. One more ball, one less turnover, one more rebound. We’re not that far away.”
The shots were coming at a fast pace for each team. Why not when you have Price on the floor who came into the game 2nd in the conference in scoring and is 12th nationally at 22.8 points per game. And UMass with Trey Davis who stood in 4th place in A10 in scoring at 19.5.
Each team looked quickly for an open jump shot or a drive to the basket. There were 122 field goal attempts in total, 39 were from beyond the arc. For the game La Salle made 24 of 60 (40%), and made 7 of 25 from distance. However, the hosts were just 1 of 10 in the second half. UMass made 26 of 62 (41.9%) and hit 6 of 14 from three-point land.
Davis led the way for the Minutemen scoring 18 points making 7 of 17 from the floor and 2 of 4 from deep.
The Explorers had a lead in the first half at 40 – 32 with 1:58 to play, but the Minutemen closed out the opening stanza with a 10 – 0 run to snag a 42 – 40 edge at intermission.
At the end of the first half, the momentum went from strongly in our favor to neutral,” Giannini said.
“There were some defensive breakdowns,” Price said about losing the lead in the first half. “We didn’t get back and they made a couple of layups. They got a lot of transition points off our turnovers.”
The trend continued in the second half as La Salle chased UMass getting to within 62 – 58 with 7:39 to play on a Amar Stukes jumper. Two free throws by Price made it a two-point game with 6:48 left. The Explorers would make only one more field goal for the rest of the game as Massachusetts closed it out scoring 12 of the final 17 points.
For La Salle Tony Washington posted his first double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, a career-mark. Cleon Roberts contributed 11 points. Price was 5 of 16 from the floor and made 3 of 10 three-pointers.
Seth Berger and Donte Clark scored 15 each for UMass. Antwan Space scored 12 points and had a team-high 9 rebounds.
The Explorers drop to 4 – 7 on the season. Next up is at Fordham on January 6. The Coach feels better days are ahead.
“We’re going to come back, no one is going to quit, and we’re going to get better and better until we become the team we want to be,” said Giannini. “When that is going to happen, how soon, I don’t know. But I know for a fact that it’s going to happen. It’s absolutely going to happen.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian