Friday, March 9, 2012

Explorers Fall To St.Louis 78-71 In A10 Quarterfinals

Cold first half shooting and some late defensive lapses were the difference in La Salle's 78-71 quarterfinal loss to St.Louis in the Atlantic Ten tournament.  The Explorers had to fight uphill all game as they fell behind by a 14-2 score only five minutes into the game.  La Salle got numerous open looks against the typically stingy Billiken defense but could only make 37.5% of them in the first half with the majority of them coming in the first five minutes.
Just when it looked like St.Louis might cruise to an easy victory, the Explorers inched their way back, cutting the Billikens lead to one point on three different occasions, the last with just under six minutes to go in the first half.  St.Louis responded with a 17-7 run until a late Earl Pettis three brought La Salle within six points at the half. 

The Billikens kept the Explorers at bay early in the second half and were able to extend their lead to eleven with ten minutes to play.  And once again, La Salle fought back to a 57-56 deficit with just over four minutes left.  But the Explorer defense was caught sleeping as St. Louis' Brian Conklin slipped inside for two easy baskets sandwiched around a make by Pettis and the final dagger was a three by the Billiken's Mike McCall which point St.Louis up by seven points 1:34 to go.  Pettis gave La Salle some life by making all three free throws after being fouled while shooting from beyond the arc which cut the Billiken lead to four.  But the Explorers were forced to foul the rest of the way and St.Louis went 9-9 from the line in the last minute to clinch the win.

In what might be his last game in a La Salle uniform, Earl Pettis hit a number of big shots and led the team with 18 points.  Also in double figures for the Explorers were Ramon Galloway, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, and Tyreek Duren (13).  For St.Louis, Mike McCall (16) led four players in double figures.

With the loss, La Salle falls to 21-11 on the season, and will be crossing their fingers hoping for an invitation to either the NIT, CBI, or CIT tournaments.  St. Louis improves to 25-6 and will face Xavier in a semifinal matchup on Friday night.

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