BROOKLYN, NY 3/14/2019 – The season ended for the La Salle Explorers in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The 9th seeded Explorers fell 76 – 57 to the Rhode Island Rams, the #8 seed, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“We’ve come a long way starting the season 0 – 10,” said La Salle Coach Ashley Howard. “I’m disappointed in the loss but proud of the growth of this team throughout the season.”
It has been said that basketball is a numbers game. La Salle made 31.1% of their shots compared to 45.5 % for URI. In Points per Possession the Rams had 1.118 and the Explorers .851. That is the story.
“We stuck to the game plan, shared the basketball and got 17 assists,” said Rhode Island Coach David Cox. “We did a great job of following the game plan.”
The big numbers for Rhode Island came from forward Cyril Langevine who scored a game-high 25 points, one shy of his career-high, converting 9 of 10 from the floor, 7 of 10 from the free throw line, and pulled down 12 rebounds. Imhotep Charter grad Fatts Russell added 19 points and handed out a career-high tying 7 assists. Jeff Dowtin contributed 12 points.
“We move up to the next round,” said Langevine on the importance of his performance.
The Explorers were led by Saul Phiri who was the only team member to score in double figures getting 10.
“We struggled to make shots,” Howard said. “We got some open looks, wide open, didn’t make them and it affected our energy on the defensive end. It set the tone.”
Rhode Island is the defending league champions. This La Salle team as presently constructed is looking for its initial win the conference tournament. Experience was a factor.
“Our older players, none of those guys have won an Atlantic 10 Tournament game,” said Howard. “Rhode Island is playing guys who played in the NCAA Tournament last year. A lot of it has to do with experience. A big part of it was Rhode Island came to play and set the tone from the start.”
The season ends at 10 – 21 for the Explorers, the first season under Coach Ashley Howard. The second half of the season went much better than the first. Improvement was shown steadily throughout the year. Pookie Powell will be the only roster player that will not return. A big loss, but there is plenty to build on next year for this team.
“We’re more connected this year, we shared the ball better,” said Saul Phiri about where the team got better. “We felt we could be a dangerous team which is a big improvement. Focusing on defense, we definitely improved on that.”
Rhode Island moves on to play top-seeded VCU.
Written By: Glenn Papazian