PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/28/2019 – The La Salle Explorers looked to continue their best non-conference start since the 2012-13 season meeting the Bucknell Bison at The Palestra. And did so beating Bucknell 71 – 59. La Salle, winners of eight of their last nine games, and finished 2019 with a 9 – 3 record.
“It’s a great way to close out 2019 with a win here at The Palestra,” said La Salle Coach Ashley Howard. “Our two seniors said this week that they never won a game at The Palestra, so I am happy that they were able to enjoy the experience.”
The Explorers played tough on defense holding the Bison to 35.3% shooting, the second lowest percentage for the season, and caused 23 turnovers tying the BU season-high. The defense set the tone in the first half when Bucknell was held to 24% from the floor and had 13 miscues. It was not as consistent in the later twenty minutes.
“I thought it was one of our better efforts in spurts,” Howard said about the defensive effort. “We played in spurts and I am waiting for our team to put together a full forty minute effort.”
La Salle held a 22-point lead in the second half. Bucknell closed to within 10 at 69 – 59 with 46 seconds on the clock.
On offense La Salle had balance as again all ten players scored for the third consecutive game. The Explorers made 25 of 53 (47.2%). Jared Kimbrough contributed a team-high 16 points to set his collegiate mark. Freshman guard Ayinde Hikim set a career-mark handing out 7 assists and stole the ball 5 times. In addition to Kimbrough three other players were in double-digits in points. Isiah Deas had 15, David Beatty scored 11 and Ed Croswell contributed 10 points. Many contributors gives the Explorers a lift.
“It gives everybody energy especially from the bench coming in there, rebounding, scoring and that gives us a huge energy boost,” said Kimbrough.
Jimmy Sotos led the Bison (4 – 9) with a game-high 17 points. Andrew Funk added 10 points and a game-best 8 rebounds.
The Explorers close the 5-game homestand on January 2 when they open the Atlantic 10 schedule with a game against nationally-ranked Dayton.
“That’s going to be a huge game for us,” Kimbrough said. “We have to stay focused and ready.”
“Dayton is one of the best teams in college basketball,” said Howard. “I am looking at it as a great opportunity for us to test ourselves and see if we can play forty minutes against a quality opponent. We’ve had three opportunities against Villanova, Temple, and Penn three really good, NCAA Tournament caliber teams, in each of the games they had spurts that put us out of the game. That can’t happen against Dayton, a team that can do that to you.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian