WASHINGTON, D.C. 3/7/2018 – The season for the La Salle Explorers came to an end with a heartbreaking 69 – 67 to the Minutemen of Massachusetts in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. In a contest where it was a one possession game over the last 6 minutes, La Salle had two shots at the end, but neither found the bottom of the net. The 13th seeded Massachusetts goes on the play the #5 seed George Mason in the second round.
“This was an emotional loss, the last of a difficult season, ” said La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini. “It was unfortunately typical of our season. We just couldn’t get over the hump. Our record in games that came down to the last shot was not good.”
The Explorers trailed 57 – 54 with 6:03 to play on two free throws by Pookie Powell. The game was knotted at 59 with just over 5 minutes remaining on a B.J. Johnson jumper, two of his 18 points. Powell got the lead back for the Explorers with a traditional three-point play with 4:09 showing on the clock, but Malik Hines answered for UMass who never trailed again.
Late in the game La Salle held Massachusetts on a shot clock violation getting the ball back down by a point and 12.2 seconds to get over the hump.
“We needed to buckle down and get a stop,” Stukes said about the La Salle mindset at the end. “That’s all we were talking about, either get a stop or we are going home.”
Powell drove to the basket, but missed. After a UMass free throw, Powell had another chance. His three-pointer, an open look, got off but bounced off the rim as the horn sounded. Powell added 18 for La Salle and he added 5 assists. Center Tony Washington had a team-high 20 points, which tied his career-high, and added a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Tony was the main stay,” Giannini said about Washington. “He was just terrific today and deserved a better outcome.”
As a team the Explorers went 1 for 16 from the three-point line, and gave up 9 offensive rebounds to the Minutemen.
UMass Guard C.J. Anderson led all scorers with 21 points. Luwane Pipkins added 15 points. Two other Minutemen scored in double figures as Malik Hines scored 14 and Carl Pierre added 11 points.
La Salle finishes the season with a 13 – 19 record.
“We were just one shot away,” Giannini said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian