Texas Southern defeats La Salle at buzzer, 77-76

Cleon Roberts came off the bench to score 16 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor. (Photo: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleon Roberts came off the bench to score 16 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor. (Photo: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Courtesy of GoExplorers.com

PHILADELPHIA – A buzzer-beating three-pointer from Texas Southern guard Dulani Robinson lifted the Tigers a 77-76 victory over the La Salle men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon at Gola Arena. Junior B.J. Johnson led the Explorers with 24 points while senior Cleon Roberts came off the bench to score 16 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor.

The first half saw Texas Southern jump out to a 13-point lead nearly midway through the period, before Johnson started the comeback for La Salle. Five straight points by the Philadelphia native cut the margin to single digits at 23-15, and his pass on the next possession found junior Pookie Powell for three to put the score at 23-18.

With the deficit still at five, Roberts drained a three-pointer from the right corner before another three from Johnson brought the Explorers to within one at 29-28 with 4:44 to go in the half. Another trifecta from the left-handed Johnson, off a pass from senior Jordan Price, gave La Salle its first lead of the game at 33-31. The home team entered the locker room with a slim 35-34 advantage at halftime.

A layup from TSU’s Derrick Griffin gave the visitors a 46-41 cushion less than four minutes into the second period, but the Explorers came back again thanks in large part to Johnson and Roberts. Three free throws from Johnson and a layup from Roberts comprised a 5-0 spurt to knot the contest at the 15:25 mark.

The score remained tied a minute later before Roberts drilled another three-ball to push La Salle on top, 51-48. The contest remained close the rest of the way, as neither team could gain much breathing room. A three-pointer from Kevin Scott gave Texas Southern a 62-59 lead, but Roberts responded himself with a tough jumper in the paint and a three-pointer that tied the game at 68-68.

After junior Amar Stukes drove the lane to give the Explorers a two-point lead, four straight points from Johnson bumped La Salle’s advantage to 74-69 with 1:23 on the clock. Zach Lofton responded with a layup then, after a missed dunk by the Explorers, hit a contested jumper in the paint on the fast break to bring the Tigers to within 74-73.

La Salle drained the shot clock all the way down and Powell was fouled with 7.7 seconds left and the Explorers clinging to a one-point lead. The junior drained both to up the lead back to 76-73, and a foul put Scott at the line with 5.1 on the clock for Texas Southern. Scott made just one, but La Salle missed on another free throw at the other end leading to the last-second heroics by Robinson.

Five different players scored in double figures for Texas Southern, led by Robinson’s 17 points. The Explorers had an impressive 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio but were outrebounded by a 35-25 margin.

La Salle returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 27 at Drexel in a matinee that is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m.

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