La Salle Advances to the Quarterfinal Round With a 63 – 56 Win Over Saint Joseph’s
WASHINGTON, DC 3/9/2022 –
In the first game of the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament two Philadelphia schools met to open the festivities. It was not planned, it was just the way the seeds fell. One school stays and that is the 12th seeded La Salle Explorers who got out early and withstand a Saint Joseph’s Hawks rally to win 63 – 56. La Salle plays #5 Saint Louis in the quarterfinal round.
La Salle guard Jack Clark scored a game-high 20 points and took down a collegiate-best 13 rebounds. Forward Clifton Moore blocked 4 shots and contributed 19 points in the victory.
“I thought our defensive effort and intensity was really good throughout the course of the game,” said La Salle Coach Ashley Howard. “Proud of our guys and glad that we get another opportunity to keep this run going.”
For Saint Joe’s Charles Coleman set a career-high in points and rebounds posting 18 and 11 for his first double-double. He also set a mark with 4 from beyond the arc, his only three-pointers this season. Ejike Obinna also recorded another double-double, his team leading ninth, getting 14 in each category.
Early Part of the Game Belonged to La Salle
The Explorers shot the ball well early in the game making 16 of 28 in the opening twenty minutes. On defense they held the Hawks to 12 of 31 from the floor. With the game tied at 20 the Explorers took command of the contest going on a 19 – 3 run. Guard Anwar Gill who scored all of his 7 points in that span.
The Key Moment of the Game
In the second half it was the Hawks turn as forward Ejike Obinna and Charles Coleman got them back in the game. Saint Joe’s got to within 50 – 47 late in the game. SJU had the ball. Guard Erik Reynolds II took the ball to the basket. HIs layup was blocked and Clifton Moore grabbed the rebound. La Salle took the ball down the court. Gill found Christian Ray on the wing. Ray buried a huge three-pointer helping to stabilize the Explorers. Gill dished out a team-best 4 assists.
“That was a huge sequence,” Howard said. “Saint Joe’s made a great run. That was an opportunity for them to take the lead and the momentum of the game. That was a great pass by Gill, and C-Ray hit a big shot for us.”
Jordan Hall matched the three-pointer for the Hawks, but Moore and Clark answered back with 5 points. Khalil Brantley hit four straight from the line capping a 9 – 0 run. Saint Joe’s made 1 of 10 shots until Cameron Brown connected from deep to bring SJU to within single digits.
Coleman and Obinna Carried the Hawks
The Hawks key contributions came from the forwards. With the score tied at 11 Coleman and Obinna scored 28 of the next 30 points for SJU. Coleman got all of his 18 in the run that went from the 15:08 mark in the first half until 13:38 remained in the game. Obinna scored 10 in that stretch.
“We need them to take the pressure off our guards,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “They have to come out and then get back. Their contributions are more than a normal front court player would have to do. They did it. It helped us get back in the game by alleviating the pressure on our guards.
From that point the lead fluctuated between three and five until SJU got to within one setting up the conclusive last four minutes.
Jordan Hall contributed 11 points and a game-high 6 assists.
Saint Joseph’s finishes the season with an 11 – 19 record. La Salle stands at 11 – 18 with a chance for more wins. They have a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season and longest in conference play entering the post season. The best time of year to get on such a streak.
Written By: Glenn Papazian