After their gritty double overtime win against nationally ranked VCU, La Salle returned home in hopes of continuing their momentum against Davidson on Saturday, February 14th. Despite the Explorers starting hot at the beginning of both halves, the Wildcats just kept fighting back and topped the Explorers, 77-69.
“I thought Davidson was stunningly good in mental toughness and in execution,” said head coach John Giannini. “I thought they were the best offensive team on tape that we would play this year. They were even better than that in person. Where we hurt ourselves was in lack of communication and lack of effort going for rebounds late. When we made a mistake, man did they make us pay.”
Despite La Salle being regarded as a good defensive team, Davidson kept finding advantages on offense and exploited them every chance they got while shooting a 50.9% clip from the field. The Wildcats were led by Brian Sullivan. Sullivan pieced together 28 points, going 12-17 at the foul line in the process. Sullivan also led Davidson with four three-pointers, while the team went 10-24 from three point land.
“They were ridiculously good,” Giannini said on how well Davidson was shooting the ball from three-point range. “We’re one of the best defenses in the country t defending the three-point shot. We were working, and you see what they did. Some games they’re gonna miss some of those shots, and maybe they could have missed some today and we could have won the game. But that was an average game for them. It wasn’t a great game for them, and it wasn’t a bad game. That’s what they do most nights. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t hold them below what they normally do.”
Other offensive factors for Davidson included Jordan Barham, who totaled 18 points and grabbed nine boards for the Wildcats. Tyler Kalinoski helped out by contributing 16 points of his own.
La Salle did have some silver linings on offense with four players reaching double digits. Jerrell Wright got La Salle started in the second half, where he scored 12 of his 15 points. Cleon Roberts scored 12 points while Steve Zack tallied 11 points for the Explorers. Jordan Price led La Salle with 22 points in the contest. Price has scored 86 total points in his last three episodes.
After the game, Giannini explained that while every loss hurts, this one packed a little more of a punch.
“This one feels bad because it was a mental loss,” said Giannini. “It wasn’t a physical loss, it was a mental loss. It was not talking, taking a break on a couple of rebounds. I think that makes it a little bit worse. We have to bounce back. What can’t happen is something like what happened when we lost to VCU in double overtime last year. That being said, we’ve had three killer games, with two of them on the road, in seven days. That doesn’t help in terms of your energy level. It’s not an excuse. It’s just been a heck of a week.”
The Explorers will have a couple days to rest after a busy seven days before they host Duquesne on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.