Nov. 25, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - La Salle (3-1 overall, 1-0 Big Five) rallied from deficits in both the second half and overtime to claim a 77-74 victory over Villanova (3-3 overall, 0-1 Big Five) this afternoon at Tom Gola Arena in the first Philadelphia City Series game of 2012-13.
"I know I say this after every Big Five game, but that was a great college basketball game," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I don't like coming up on this end of it, but it was a classic Big Five game and a classic example of one team executing down the stretch and another team not executing.
"We've got to learn from this and take responsibility for not executing and give (LaSalle) credit for making the plays."
The Wildcats built an 11-point lead early in the second half and led by as many as four in the extra period. But La Salle chased Villanova down each time and then made key plays in the final seconds to snap a 10-game losing skid to the Wildcats that dated back to 2001.
Ramon Galloway scored 26 points to pace the winners while Tyreek Duren added 23 more. Senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou paced the Wildcats with 20 points (he also had seven rebounds) while JayVaughn Pinkston contributed 19 points and seven boards.
After Villanova grabbed a 5-4 lead in the early minutes, La Salle relied on its long-range shooting to forge a 13-6 run with Galloway doing much of the damage with a pair of 3-point field goals. A Wildcat turnover and subsequent Sam Mills layup gave the Explorers a 17-11 lead with 11:30 to play in the first half.
A pair of Jerrell Wright baskets pushed the Explorers advantage to 21-13 with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half. The sophomore was a handful inside early for the `Cats, contributing 10 points and three rebounds for La Salle in that stretch. Meanwhile, first half turnovers, a problem for VU on Tuesday night against Columbia, were an issue as the `Cats committed six in the first 13 plus minutes of action.
The Wildcats bounced back to within 23-22 with some defensive toughness and a 3-point goal from Pinkston in the corner set up by quality ball movement. Pinkston's work on the interior allowed VU to re-take the lead with under four minutes remaining. His short jumper and free throw capped a 17-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 32-25 lead with 3:13 to play in the first half.
Villanova withstood a late push in the period to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room at the break.
After a tight defensive first half, matters opened up early in the second 20 minutes. Junior James Bell sank a pair of triples to spark an 8-1 surge only to see La Salle answer with a 7-2 spurt of its own to make it 44-37 with 15:17 left to play in the second half.
The Explorers' pressure, however, began causing issues for Villanova. Galloway sparked a run that allowed La Salle to tie the game at 46 after a free throw from Steve Zack with 11:32 on the clock in the second half.
"I thought their guards did a great job of pressuring our guards," stated Wright. "We really struggled to get into our offense, especially late in regulation and in overtime."
The Wildcats were able to push the lead back to six at 59-53 after a series of free throws from Darrun Hilliard and Tony Chennault. But five straight points from Galloway brought La Salle to within 59-58 with 4:41 in the period.
The contest was tight through the rest of regulation. A free throw from Ryan Arcidiacono gave the `Cats a 67-64 lead with 25 seconds left before Duren drained a triple from deep with Yarou's hand in his face and six seconds on the clock to knot the game at 67. VU came up empty on its final possession and overtime came next.
"Duren was terrific," stated Wright. "Even though he wasn't making shots in the first half he controlled the game. He's hurt us before."
The Wildcats twice built four point leads in the first overtime only to see La Salle come back each time. A Villanova turnover with the `Cats holding a 74-73 lead gave the Explorers the ball with 27.7 seconds to play in the period. A nifty feed off a back-door cut led to a layup for Duren to give La Salle back the lead at75-74 with 18.2 seconds left in the extra session. Yarou's bid for a game-winning bucket was short and Zack sank both free throws after being fouled once he had collected the rebound.
"Give them credit for their execution," said Wright, "and give us poor marks for our execution. We've got to get better."
Villanova heads to Nashville later in the week for its next game, a Saturday encounter with Vanderbilt in the SEC/ BIG EAST Challenge on Saturday (5:00 p.m./ESPN2).