Physical Saint Louis Downs La Salle 75 – 57

Clifton Moore Scores 23 Points for the Explorers

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/8/2022 –

A physical Saint Louis Billikens team visited the Gola Arena to play the La Salle Explorers. The Explorers did not match the Billikens physicality and lost 75 – 57. Saint Louis established the tone early, driving to the basket and getting the ball inside. The inside game resulted in a huge 46 – 22 advantage in points in the paint. Essentially, that decided the game.

“We talked about their drivers,” said La Salle Coach Ashley Howard. “They’re athletic, physical wings that drive the ball. We didn’t do a good job early in the game and that set the tone, getting to the rim and getting foul shots.”

Saint Louis made 25 of 50 shots inside the arc in getting the victory led by forward Francis Okoro who scored 19 points making 9 of 11 field goal attempts, tying his collegiate-best for made baskets. In the second half he scored 17 points.

With under 7 minutes to play in the first half La Salle got to within 26 – 22 on a three-pointer by Clifton Moore, who scored 23 points for the Explorers. The Billikens responded with a 15 – 5 run to halftime led by guards Yuri Collins and Fred Thatch, Jr. to establish the lead. None of the baskets were from the three-point line.

In the second half Okoro established himself scoring the first 8 Billikens points. The Explorers would only get to within single digits one time in the latter twenty minutes. Collins got the ball to Okoro in a position to score.

“We talked about Okoro playing off Collins,” Howard said. “That’s their go-to, putting those two guys in a two-man game.”

Saint Louis also took home a 43 – 31 advantage in rebounds. Thatch, Jr. took down a career-high 10 rebounds. Christian Ray headed La Salle getting 10 caroms. The inability to get the ball off the glass proved to be costly.

“When you need stops you have to defensive rebound,” said Howard. “They got offensive rebounds and kept that lead extended. When you get defensive stops and they get offensive rebounds, those are back breaking plays, momentum plays. That’s what Saint Louis does. We have to do a better job when we see them in a couple of weeks on the glass.”

Moore shot 8 of 16 from the floor and sank 5 of 8 free throws.

“Cliff was who we expect him to be,” Howard observed. “We demand a lot of him. He had 4 blocked shots. He did an good job of picking his spots on offense.”

Josh Nickelberry added 17 points making 6 of 13 attempts, 3 of 8 from distance.

Thatch, Jr. posted a double-double with 14 points to go along with his 10 rebounds. Gibson Jimerson added13 points. Collins had a pair of 8’s with 8 points and 8 assists. Collins leads the NCAA in average assists per game at 8.5.

Saint Louis (17 – 6, 8 – 2) extends its winning streak to six games and won its last three games on the road. La Salle falls to 7 – 14, 2 – 9 in the Atlantic 10. The Explorers play their next four-games on the road. The second game of the trip is to Saint Louis for a rematch in eight days. The mission is clear.

“When you play Saint Louis, you have to match their physicality,” Howard said. “We have to do a better job of defending their guys, mentally prepared to be in a battle. Saint Louis is physical, everything around the basket is physical, the post moves are going to be physical, the drives are going to be physical, so we have to be ready to match their physicality.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian


Clifton Moore (in white) Ready to Shoot the Ball

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