La Salle outlasts Saint Joseph’s, 81-78

Courtesy of GoExplorers.com

PHILADELPHIA – Freshman Jamir Moultrie broke a 72-72 tie with a critical three-pointer with 1:16 remaining to help the La Salle University men’s basketball team to an 81-78 win over rival Saint Joseph’s in Atlantic 10 action at Tom Gola Arena on Saturday.

Moultrie finished with 18 points, one shy of his career high, while senior B.J. Johnson led the Explorers with 25 points and registered the 1,000th point of his collegiate career. Redshirt junior Pookie Powell also contributed 15 points and 11 assists against no turnovers in 40 minutes of action. La Salle committed just two turnovers in the contest, which ties for the second-lowest total in an NCAA game this season.

The Explorers trailed by three at 71-68 with less than four minutes remaining, before Johnson and graduate student Amar Stukes hit layups to give the home team a one-point lead. After a free throw knotted the score at 72-72, Moultrie connected from well beyond the three-point arc to push the Explorers on top.

La Salle forced a missed at the other end before two free throws from Powell put the advantage at five with 40 seconds on the clock. Johnson hit all four of his free throws down the stretch to seal the victory as the Explorers improved to 10-13 overall and 4-6 in A-10 play. St. Joe’s falls to 9-14 and 4-6 against league foes.

Both teams got off to a slow start, with the first basket of the game coming on a three-pointer by senior Amar Stukes 2:24 into action. The Explorers remained on top by three after a tip-in by Powell, but the Hawks scored the next six points to take an 8-5 lead with 13:57 to go in the half.

Saint Joseph’s extended the lead to 13-9 before the under-12 media timeout before Moultrie connected from downtown to make it a one-point game with 10:59 on the clock. The freshman, who set a new career high with 19 points on Wednesday against Davidson, finished with 18 on the afternoon.

From there, the Hawks went on a 9-0 run behind three consecutive three-pointers to take a 22-12 advantage with 8:25 to go in the first. After a La Salle timeout, Johnson ended the run with a baseline jumper, but the Hawks continued to hit from outside. Powell later buried a trifecta to bring the Explorers within eight with 4:33 until halftime, 32-24.

Trailing, 41-28, with 3:02 remaining in the half, La Salle found its groove behind back-to-back threes by Johnson. Stukes then scored on a crafty reverse layup, and a pair of foul shots by Powell capped off a 10-0 run that brought the Explorers within three with 56 seconds left, 41-38. Chris Clover sank a jumper for the Hawks, as Saint Joseph’s held a 43-38 lead at halftime.

Sophomore Isiah Deas found Stukes for the first two points of the second half, cutting the deficit to three 43 seconds into action. Deas worked his magic again when he sent a behind-the-back pass to Johnson for a wide-open slam, and less than a minute later, Moultrie sank a three to bring the Explorers within two, 50-48.

A steal and layup by Powell brought La Salle within one with 11:09 to go, and shortly after, Saul Phiri converted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 58 all with 10:26 remaining.

La Salle took its first lead of the second half with 9:56 on the clock on a three-pointer by Moultrie, giving the Explorers a 61-58 lead and forcing the Hawks to burn a timeout.

Moultrie continued to feel it, sinking another trey 56 seconds later to push the advantage to six. The Hawks worked their way back to tie the game at 64 apiece, and took a lead prior to the final sequence.

Shavar Newkirk, who also scored his 1,000th point in today’s game, led St. Joe’s with 30 points.

La Salle hits the road for its next two outings, beginning with a matchup with George Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. A local broadcast of the game will be aired live on NBC Sports Network.

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