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Jan. 2, 1997
Rafael Bigus led the Wildcats with 14 points. (File Photo)

Villanova Falls to LaSalle, 72-65

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Victor Thomas scored 10 points and keyed La Salle down the stretch as the Explorers snapped Villanova's four-game win streak with a 72-65 victory Friday afternoon.

Thomas made three big plays in the game's final two and a half minutes as La Salle (4-5) pulled away in a game that had been close for most of the second half.

Thomas made two free throws with 2:06 left to increase the Explorers' lead to 63-58, then intercepted a cross-court pass with 1:47 to go.

Donnie Carr, who led La Salle with 16 points, missed the Explorers' next shot, but Thomas pulled down the rebound to re-set the shot clock. Carr then made a nice pass to K'Zell Wesson, whose layup with 1:17 to play put La Salle up 65-58.

Villanova (6-5) trailed 61-58 but had a 4-on-1 break when Howard Brown missed the layup. La Salle got the rebound and took the ball down the other end, where Thomas made the two free throws.

Wesson and Garrett Bragg each had 14 points for the Explorers, who also got 11 points from Mike Gizzi.

The Wildcats had four players in double figures: Rafael Bigus (14), T.J. Caouette (13), Brown (12) and John Celestand (12).

The game was tied at 56 when Gizzi's 3-pointer put La Salle up for good with 3:36 to play. The Explorers then outscored Villanova 9-2 to pull away.

La Salle trailed by as many as 10 early in the first half, but Villanova got careless with the ball, allowing the Explorers to come back and take a 31-29 lead at the break.

The teams combined for 21 first-half turnovers, with La Salle scoring 15 points on the Wildcats' 11 turnovers.