Dr. John Giannini posts 500th career victory; La Salle defeats Fordham, 75-67

Courtesy of GoExplorers.com

PHILADELPHIA – Five players scored in double figures as the La Salle University men’s basketball team held off a late run to pick up a 75-67 Atlantic 10 victory over Fordham at Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday. The win was the 500th in the head coaching career of Dr. John Giannini.

Sophomore Saul Phiri recorded his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Explorers, who improved to 8-11 overall and 2-4 in A-10 play. Classmate Isiah Deas added 15 points and eight rebounds, while senior Tony Washington shot 6-of-7 from the floor on his way to 14 points

The Explorers connected on their first three field goal attempts to jump in front early on. The Rams worked its way back, however, and tied the game at 8-8 at the first media timeout. Shortly after the timeout, Deas put up a three-pointer that circled around the rim and dropped in to give the Explorers a three-point advantage.

La Salle remained in front for the next 4:14 until Ivan Raut sank a three to give the Rams their first lead of the game, 17-15, with 10:40remaining in the half. The Explorers quickly responded, as senior B.J. Johnson, who returned to the lineup after missing the last two games due to an ankle injury, soared for a put-back slam off to tie the game once again.

Less than a minute later, La Salle went back on top, 21-19, with Johnson finding his second bucket of the game on a jumper.

That basket started an 11-0 run for the Explorers, which was capped by a Phiri three off a dish from graduate student Amar Stukes, extending the advantage to 30-19 with 5:14 left until halftime. La Salle kept the momentum rolling, and Deas knocked down a pair of threes down the stretch to guide the Explorers to a 44-31 halftime lead.

Just as they did in the first half, the Explorers knocked down their first three shots of the second half and held a 15-point lead after a jumper by Washington. Later in the half, Powell slipped a pass through traffic to Washington, who slammed it home and drew a foul. Shortly after Washington converted on the three-point play, Stukes finished on a layup to give La Salle a 20-point lead with 12:41remaining, 61-41.

Fordham answered back, however, and worked a 10-0 run to pull back with 10 with 9:11 to go. The Rams kept chipping away, and after four straight points by Will Tavares, the lead was cut to just five at 62-57 with 7:39 left. Powell finally ended the run 20 seconds later, hitting a trey to extend the lead back to eight.

Johnson got the lead back to double figures with 5:01 to go with a two-handed dunk. A timely three-pointer by Phiri kept the Explorers’ lead at 11 with 1:03 remaining, and a Deas layup with just 32 ticks left put the game out of reach, as La Salle closed out the 75-67 win.

Tavares led all scorers as he tallied 18 points for the Rams.

The Explorers will look to build on the victory as they travel to Richmond for another league matchup on Saturday, Jan 20. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. The contest will be televised live nationally on NBC Sports Network.

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