By Sean Kennedy
La Salle 74, Temple 68
With the cameras of College GameDay rolling at the Palestra, the Explorers proved to be the stars of the Philadelphia basketball scene, besting Temple for the first time in the teams’ last nine meetings. In the victory, Tyreek Duren did the heavy lifting for the Explorers, recording a team-high 20 points and 7 assists. The La Salle senior drained three triples on the afternoon, including a dagger shot to extend the Explorers’ lead from 4 points to 7 with just outside of 2 minutes remaining. That big shot ensured La Salle would win its 31st straight game when leading with 5 minutes left in a contest.
Assisting Duren in the effort were center Steve Zack, who tallied his third-straight double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Tyrone Garland Jerrell Wright, who chipped in with 17 and 15 points, respectively. For the Owls, Will Cummings sat out another game, and in his absence, fellow junior Anthony Lee stepped up to keep Temple in the game throughout the contest. Lee finished with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, battling Zack and Wright down low without much help from a depleted Temple frontline. Both teams moved to 2-1 in the Big 5 following this outcome, with Temple having a game against Villanova remaining and La Salle facing St. Joe’s in their regular season finale.
Drexel 79, UNC-Wilmington 63
Even without multiple starters available, Drexel still proved to be too much for the struggling Seahawks, but boy, did they ever make things difficult on themselves. The Dragons fell behind by 13 at the half before going on a huge tear after the break, thanks in big part to the efforts of Seton Hall transfer Freddie Wilson. The junior had the best game of his collegiate career, scoring a career-high 16 points on 3-5 shooting behind the arc, with all 16 points coming in the second half during the Dragons’ surge.
Of course, Drexel needed more than the 16 provided by Wilson and got all the points it could desire from Frantz Massenat. The senior guard dropped a career-high 30 points and 8 assists, shooting 8-11 from the field and 14-18 from the foul line. Massenat made more free throws than the entire Seahawks team combined, and has certainly stepped up with all the Drexel injuries, averaging 24 points over the last 4 games.The Dragons also received a boost with Dartaye Ruffin returning to action. Ruffin came off the bench and was a bit rusty getting back to game speed, fouling out in the game. Drexel hopes Ruffin’s return will signal some better health for the time going forward.
Villanova 88, DePaul 62
It just doesn’t seem fair when opposing teams have to come to the Pavilion, as DePaul was the latest team to fall victim to the Wildcats in their house of horrors. Villanova hit over 70% of their shots in the second half to really break open the game. While they were hitting all those shots, the Cats were also taking care of the basketball, with a season-low 5 turnovers. Holding on the ball and not missing your shots is basically the recipe to beating any team, let alone a Blue Demons squad that hasn’t defeated Villanova since January of 2008.
As usual, Villanova got a balanced scoring effort with five players in double figures. James Bell led the attack with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Daniel Ochefu had 14 points on perfect 6-6 shooting, and 3 blocks. The Wildcats hope the hot shooting carries over to the Wells Fargo Center, where they will take on Doug McDermott and Creighton Monday night.
Saint Joseph’s 85, Pennsylvania 68
In the night-cap of the Big 5 doubleheader at the Palestra, St. Joe’s stayed hot in a lopsided rout over city rival Penn. The Hawks had separate runs of 12-0 and 18-0 in the first half, jumping out to a huge 34-point halftime lead as the Quakers looked nothing like the club that defeated Princeton last weekend. The ball was still glowing gold for Langston Galloway as the Hawks senior guard was on fire once again, sinking 6 of 7 three-pointers for a game-high 20 points. Ronald Roberts, Jr. was back on the court after missing a couple games and wasted no time showing the back was feeling better, dunking on the very first play of the game. He finished with 10 points in just 20 minutes of action.
Penn was led by Tony Hicks who had 15 points but the Quakers were badly out-rebounded by the Hawks 36-25. Center Darien Nelson-Henry had just 1 rebound on the night, and was dominated by St. Joes’ Halil Kanacevic who finished a point shy of a triple-double with 15 rebounds and 12 assits. The win marked the first for the Hawks in Big 5 play with one contest remaining, while Penn finished 0-4 against Philly opponents this season.