La Salle edges Holy Cross, 58-54, at Belfast Classic in Northern Ireland

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Senior B.J. Johnson connected on a go-ahead three-pointer with two minutes remaining to give the La Salle University men’s basketball team a lead it would not relinquish in a 58-54 win over Holy Cross (2-5) at the Hoophall Hall of Fame Belfast Classic in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Johnson, who finished with a team-high 15 points, hit a corner three to give the Explorers (5-4) a 53-50 lead. Two free throws by the Crusaders with 1:18 to go cut the margin back to one before Isiah Deas drilled a triple with under a minute remaining to extend the lead to 56-52.

Holy Cross guard Pat Benzan hit a driving layup to bring the margin to two, but Johnson made two free throws with under 10 seconds left to seal the victory.

In the first half, the Explorers crashed the boards for 10 offensive rebounds which led to a 9-2 edge in second-chance points. La Salle also scored 13 points off seven Holy Cross turnovers, while committing just three over the first 20 minutes.

An 8-0 run that spanned 1:47 moved La Salle’s lead from one to nine at 19-10. Deas had all five of his first-half points over that time, helping the Explorers build an advantage that rose to as many as 13 in the period.

With a 10-point lead heading into the second half, La Salle used another 8-0 run to build a 42-26 lead. Redshirt junior Pookie Powell knocked down a pair of three-pointers before Holy Cross mounted a comeback.

Trailing 45-32 at the 11:27 mark of the second period, the Crusaders scored 10 of the next 11 points over the next four minutes to pull to within four at 46-42.

A short fadeaway from Powell bumped the lead back to five at the 4:36 mark, but Karl Charles knocked down a three and Jehyve Floyd converted on a layup to tie the game at 50-50 before Johnson’s three put La Salle up for good.

Floyd scored a team-high 15 points for the Crusaders while Benzan finished with 13.

La Salle returns to the United States and the friendly confines of Tom Gola Arena for its next contest on Thursday, Dec. 7. Drexel will be the opponent, with tipoff set for 7:00 p.m.

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