Explorers Guard Josh Nickelberry Equaled a Career-High With 28 Points
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/22/2023 –
The La Salle Explorers came into the game hoping to get back on the positive side of the ledger after their five-game win streak was broken at George Mason. Instead the losing skid is at two games after a 91 – 74 loss to the Duquesne Dukes at the Gola Arena. It was the most points given up by the Explorers this season.
La Salle Did Not Have an Answer for the Duquesne Inside Game
The offensive game for the Dukes was effective, especially close to the basket outscoring La Salle 52 – 22 in the paint. The Explorers could not match it. Duquesne had five players score in double figures. The forward position supplied four of the double-digit scorers. Joe Reece scored a career-high 26 points sinking 11 of 13 from inside the arc. He sank 4 of 5 free throws. Tre Williams added 14 points and handed out a collegiate-best 6 assists. Fellow front court mates R.J. Gunn and Austin Rotroff contributed 10 points apiece.
“Our bigger guys did not contest like I was hoping that we would,” said La Salle Coach Fran Dunphy. “We tried to limit them on the perimeter and that left them open inside. Their size hurt us. I thought Reece was great and Williams did what he needed to do.”
Duquesne made 27 of 40 two-point field goal attempts (67.5%). La Salle could not fully focus on the inside game as the Dukes could hurt them from the outside if open making 8 of 23 (34.8%). Guard Dae Dae Grant scored 10 points and Kareem Rozier dished a career-high tying 6 assists.
La Salle Offense Headed by Josh Nickelberry
“When he gets it going, it’s great,” Dunphy said about Nickelberry. “I thought he made some tough shots. They weren’t leaving him that wide open. He got himself into pretty good spots to catch and shoot and was knocking a number of them down.”
The senior guard drained 6 of 11 from distance, 7 of 15 overall, and sank 8 of 10 free throws for game and season high 28 points. He took down 4 rebounds. The Drame brothers Hassan (12 points) and Fousseyni (10 points) scored in double figures with a team-high tying 6 rebounds. Overall, the Explorers shot 40.7% (22 of 54) and went 9 of 23 from three-point land.
A Game of Runs Until Later
Early in the game it was a game of runs. Duquesne had the lead and forced La Salle to keep playing uphill. The Explorers generated a run of their own in the first half. After falling behind La Salle took the lead with a 16 – 6 run going ahead via a Nickelberry three-pointer 28 – 26 with just under four and a half minutes remaining in the first half.
The Dukes took the lead back, but the Explorers tied the game at 38 with just over a half-minute left. A three-pointer by Gunn gave the Dukes a lead at intermission.
“You are trying to come back too much,” Dunphy said. “You like to have a little bit of a lead. That basket at the end of the first half was a critical play We just didn’t guard it well enough. That gave them momentum at halftime.”
The game had the same characteristics until Duquesne took and kept a sizeable lead and stretched it out until the end. The largest deficit for the Explorers was 20 points near the end.
“The game of runs is what it is and we just didn’t have as many runs as they did,” said Dunphy.
Duquesne (19 – 9, 9 – 6) started a new winning streak after coming back after loss at Saint Louis that ended a four-game win span. Davidson visits the Bluffs on Sunday.
La Salle (13 – 15, 7 – 8) goes to George Washington on Saturday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian