La Salle picks up third straight win; defeats Bucknell, 83-73

Jordan Price (21) scored 20 on 7-of-13 shooting. (Photo: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports)
Jordan Price (21) scored 20 on 7-of-13 shooting. (Photo: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports)

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PHILADELPHIA – The duo of Jordan Price and B.J. Johnson combined to score 42 points as the La Salle University men’s basketball team defeated Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday afternoon at Tom Gola Arena. The victory is the third straight for the Explorers (4-2), who held the Bison (6-3) to 29 points and just 39.1 percent shooting in the second half.

“I thought the second half was the best we’ve played this year,” head coach Dr. John Giannini said. “We held a terrific offensive team to 39 percent from the field and we only had three turnovers in the second half until we got a couple odd late offensive fouls. I think our players did exactly what they had to do to win the game against a team that’s won at Vanderbilt, won four in a row, beat Richmond. That’s a really good team.”

Two free throws from Johnson opened up an 11-7 lead for La Salle less than six minutes into the stanza. Bucknell came back behind the long-distance shooting of Nate Jones, as his three at the 10:36 mark gave the visitors a 17-15 advantage.

The Bison remained in front the rest of the first half despite a strong period from Price, who finished the half with 11 points including a perfect 3-for-3 mark from three-point range. A three from the redshirt senior guard, who reached the 20-point mark for the third straight game, tied the game at 34-34 and two free throws a minute later once again tied the score at 38-all.

A tip-in from Johnson near the end of the opening half again knotted the contest before Bucknell guard Stephen Brown finished on a short jumper right before the buzzer to put the score at 44-42. The Bison shot a blistering 58.6 percent from the field including 8-for-14 from three-point range.

The second half was a different story, as the Explorers racheted up the defensive intensity and it proved fruitful early on. A steal and fast-break dunk from Johnson gave La Salle its first lead since early in the first half at 46-44 less than a minute into the period and the defense held Bucknell to 2-of-7 shooting (28.6 percent) and five turnovers over the first seven minutes.

Over that span, the Explorers built a 12-point cushion thanks to five straight points from Price and another steal and fast-break finish from Johnson. From there, La Salle built a lead that grew to as many as 17 points following a finish by redshirt junior Demetrius Henry and never let the lead slip below double figures en route to a comfortable win.

All nine players that saw action found the scoring column for La Salle, including nine from Henry, eight from redshirt sophomore Pookie Powell and seven from Amar Stukes. Four reached double figures for Bucknell, led by 15 apiece for Jones and Brown.

La Salle will take on defending national champion and the current No. 2-ranked team in the country Villanova on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Palestra. The contest is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., with all of the action available nationally on ESPN2. A ceremony to retire the No. 20 of former Explorer Larry Cannon will also take place at halftime.

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