La Salle entered their regular season finale Saturday with a chance to win the Atlantic 10 title. They might not have been far from Saint Louis in the standings but the Explorers’ play on the court showed they were far from being on even footing with the Billikens as they fell apart in the second half, losing 78-54. La Salle played very poor defensively, routinely allowing Saint Louis easy lanes to the basket and getting crushed by the larger Billikens on the glass. Offensively, La Salle settled far too often for long jumpers without making the defense work. Ramon Galloway was the prime culprit, shooting a poor 3-12 from the field.
Two Billikens really stood out to me over the course of the game. Rob Loe took time away from the Parks and Recreation set to flash his versatile offensive game, going a perfect 7-7 from the field and 3-3 from the line. Besides showing the ability to step outside (hitting 3 threes), Loe displayed great footwork in the post and had some excellent finishes around the basket. Additionally, Dwayne Evans was relentless on the glass, accruing 17 rebounds (including 6 offensive) to go along with 16 points. Evans actually missed a number of easy lay-ups and put-backs or the damage would have been even worse. La Salle will need to play much better on the both ends of the court to win any potential re-match in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Drexel ended its disappointing 2012-13 campaign yesterday, losing in the first round of the CAA tournament to George Mason, 60-54. The Dragons hung with the Colonials throughout the game, but could not overcome a poor shooting performance to mount that one big run and take control of the contest. Leading scorer Damion Lee and Senior Derrick Thomas especially struggled, combining to shoot 4-21 from the field. Frantz Massenat led the Dragons with 20 points but did commit 5 turnovers as Drexel had trouble taking care of the ball overall as a team.
Sherrod Wright dominated offensive play for the Patriots, scoring a game-high 23 points by getting to the line 12 times, hitting 11. Bryon Allen took advantage of the Dragons’ sloppy play, recording 6 steals to help him along his way to 16 points. George Mason will play Northeastern in the CAA semifinals today. For Drexel, they will look to return next season with an almost completely intact roster, as Derrick Thomas is the lone graduating senior.
Traveling to Connecticut for its penultimate game of the season, Pennsylvania led Yale at halftime by one point before falling behind in the second half in a 79-65 defeat. Yale out-rebounded the Quakers by a 36-21 margin, continually getting second chance opportunities with 11 offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs also did an outstanding job getting to the free throw lane, converting 29 of 35 from the charity stripe.
Tony Hicks paced the Quakers’ attack, scoring a team-high 16 points on 6-12 shooting. The Bulldogs got every member of their roster into the game in their season finale with a few seniors uncharacteristically getting the nod in the starting lineup. Normal starters Armani Cotton and Javier Duren combined with Brandon Sherrod for 46 points off the bench. Penn will conclude its 2012-13 season Tuesday night against Princeton.
Saint Joseph’s may have caught itself looking ahead to next week’s A-10 tournament, coming out flat in a 52-40 loss to Charlotte. The game was a brutal one to watch for fans of both sides, as the two teams combined to shoot an abysmal 30.8% from the field, including 4-35 from behind the arc. St. Joe’s went two separate 5 minute stretches in the first half without scoring a point, but were still leading at halftime 19-18. In the second half, Charlotte wised up and began attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. The 49ers shot 21-26 from the charity stripe, as opposed to 9-15 for the Hawks, which proved to be the difference in a game where neither team could hit the broad side of a barn. Langston Galloway was the lone Hawks’ player to reach double figures, with a game-high 13 points. St. Joe’s will next play Thursday in the first round of the conference tournament.
12:00 PM: Temple (22-8, 10-5 A-10) vs. VCU (24-6, 12-3) – CBS
The Owls will put the lid on its regular season in a nationally televised game against a nationally ranked opponent in the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. Temple has a lot on the line in this contest as they can secure the 3rd seed in the A-10 tournament with a victory while they would fall to 5th with a loss and miss out on the first round bye accompanying the top 4 seeds. Conversely, VCU is already locked in as the 2 seed and may fall victim to looking ahead to postseason action. Both teams have played extremely well of late with Temple currently riding a 6-game winning streak, while VCU has won 8 of its last 9 games with the lone loss coming on the road to first place Saint Louis.
The Rams rate as a top-20 team with an extremely efficient offense and fast tempo leading to a 78.1 ppg mark that ranks within the top 15 in the country. Four players average double figures for the Rams, led by Sophomore swingman Treveon Graham at 15.7 ppg and 5.9 rpg, and Junior forward Juvonte Reddic at 14.3 ppg and 8.2 rpg. The Owls will have their hands full with a talented VCU squad. However, having more to play for in this meeting and behind a raucous home court rocking a ‘White Out’, it would not surprise me to see Temple come out on top in this contest.