In a game that had everything from a senior not suiting up, tough calls from the officials and a half-court shot to send the game into overtime, La Salle came up just short against American at the Tom Gola Arena on Tuesday night, as they fell 68-66.
American started the game strong, shooting 65% from the field in the first half led by John Schoof’s 12 first half points. Pee Wee Gardner followed suit for the Eagles in the first half with eight points of his own. When asked about what gave American the advantage to start, La Salle head coach John Giannini was quite blunt.
“Today was the first time that we played poorly because we weren’t ready to play,” said Giannini on his team’s tough first half. “You can’t not be ready to play and beat a tem like American.”
“Our game plan was to not let them shoot threes,” said redshirt sophomore Jordan Price. “We came out a little sluggish in the first half and we let them get on a roll shooting open threes. That’s what got us in a hole real quick.”
La Salle shifted gears in the second half and turned the game in their favor. Despite being down by as many as 20 points, the Explorers got hot behind Price, who totaled 26 points on the game. The most notable of those 26 points came on a shot from the Explorer logo at half court in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into the overtime period. When asked if he had ever made a shot like that, a smile came across Price’s face.
“In my younger days,” laughed Price about making a difficult shot like that. “But I practice that everyday in practice, so I was pretty confident in shooting it.”
As for the overtime period, American came out strong both offensively and defensively, holding La Salle to only seven points in the frame.
“I don’t think anything in particular happened,” Price said on his team’s struggles in the overtime period. “We just couldn’t get a bucket.”
Another thing the Explorers battled throughout the contest were tough calls from the officials. Senior Jerrell Wright, who tallied 14 points on the night, didn’t see the refs as an issue.
“I think the refs did a great job,” Wright said on how the game was officiated. “There’s gonna be games where we get calls and games where we don’t. We just have to play. That’s the only thing we have to worry about.”
Senior D.J. Peterson did not suit up for the Explorers against the Eagles. According to Giannini, Peterson tweaked his left ankle this past Saturday against Drexel and will be evaluated again soon.
“It’s interesting with D.J.,” said Giannini on the senior from Burns, Minnesota. “He does so many little things for our team, among those are getting assists and rebounds. People look at his stats and ask me why he’s playing when he has zeros in some categories. Well one of those categories is turnovers. That’s the kind of player D.J. is.”
The Explorers hope to have Peterson back when they travel to Maryland to take on Towson on Saturday, December 20th at 7 pm.