On the last day of 2011, the Explorers of La Salle played host to the Hawks of Hartford at Tom Gola Arena. A combination of dominating play by La Salle and a sloppy performance by Hartford led to a 73-55 win for the Explorers.
La Salle came into the contest riding an eight-game home winning streak dating back to last season. La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini, the winningest coach in Atlantic 10 play, commented on his team's play at home this year.
It's a big deal. We have not won at home [in the past] but this group is different. This group plays well at home. There's no other way to have a good program; you have to win at home.
Both teams got off to a rather slow start, but once Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren got rolling, the Explorer train never stopped. Galloway and Duren both had 19 points, while Earl Pettis added 11 of his own.
Galloway single handily dominated the game. Not only did he help in the scoring department, he also dished the ball off five times and had three steals. One of those steals led to a fast break dunk attempt, but Galloway who was fouled, slamming hard to the ground.
Galloway would end up being fine, but this was a scary moment as he already missed three games after suffering a concussion against Lafayette earlier this season.
Tyreek Duren also had a monster performance nailing nine points from behind the arc. He has been hot as of late and is complementing Galloway well at the guard position. His speed and vision are just what this Explorer team needs.
I'm just playing my game. I tried to make sure I pushed the ball the last few games and as a result a lot of things started opening up.
Because of his phenomenal play recently, Duren has been named as a candidate for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
If Duren and Galloway can keep taking over games, this La Salle team may be a very strong contender in Atlantic City come March in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
At one point, La Salle went on a 17-0 run and held the Hawks scoreless for nine minutes. Also, La Salle pressured Hartford defensively, which led to the Hawks turning the ball over 24 times.
Coming into the game the Explorers were 9-0 when scoring 70 points or more and 7-1 when allowing 69 points or less. With a final score of 73-55, they now change those records to 10-0 and 8-1 respectively.
The Explorers will play Xavier on January 4 at Tom Gola Arena. This will be a much tougher opponent for La Salle and also marks the opening of Atlantic 10 play.
La Salle is now 10-4 on the year, and a win over Xavier will certainly turn heads not only in the Big 5 but also within the A-10.