Christmas came early for the La Salle Explorers at the Tom Gola Arena on the La Salle campus on Sunday afternoon, November 25th, as they edged the Villanova Wildcats in overtime 77-74. With the win, La Salle broke a 10 game losing streak to Villanova, having last beat the Wildcats on November 27, 2001, 61-58 in overtime. Ramon Galloway, the Explorers’ leading scorer with 26 points, said after the game, that the win was “the greatest win ever for me and my team.” La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini said, “Our guys showed great resilience,” in overcoming Villanova leads in both the second half and in the overtime.
For Big Five Traditionalists, it was a game they probably anticipated, and surely will savor. For both teams it was the first Big Five game of the season and the first Big Five contest overall in the city this year.
Fueled by JayVaughn Pinkston (who came off the bench), Villanova went on a 17-2 run to burst past the Explorers and take a 34-30 halftime lead. During the run, Pinkston contributed 9 points. La Salle was out in front a good portion of the opening half before the Wildcats roared to life and went from 8 points down (23-15) to 7 points up on a bucket by Acraf Yacoubou. The Explorers were paced by Ramon Galloway with 11 points and Jerrell Wright with 10 points. Villanova out-rebounded La Salle by a 21-15 margin in the first half and had 11 assists to just 6 turnovers. La Salle had 5 assists to go along with 6 turnovers.
The second half saw Villanova stretch their lead to 11 points, 42-31, on a triple by James Bell. La Salle then went on a 15-4 run to tie the game up at 46-46 with 11:54 to go. The Wildcats broke a 51-51 tie on a pair of foul shots by Tony Chennault. Villanova maintained a slim lead for the vast majority of the half, when with 6 seconds left on the clock, La Salle’s Tyreek Duren hit a trey to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 67-67.
In the overtime, Villanova led by one point with the ball when they committed their 18th turnover of the game, giving the ball back to the Explorers. On a picture perfect backdoor play, Duren scored to put La Salle on top 75-74 with 18.2 seconds to go. Steve Zack added two foul shots with 6 seconds on the clock to conclude the scoring with La Salle on top 77-74.
With the win, the Explorers improved to 3-1 on the year. For the Wildcats, who suffered their third consecutive loss, their record dropped to 3-3.
For the victorious Explorers, Ramon Galloway led the way with 26 points, Duren added 23 points, and Steve Zack collected a game high 14 boards. For the Wildcats, Mouph Yarou was the leading scorer with 20 points, and Pinkston chipped in 19 points. Both Yarou and Pinkston grabbed 7 rebounds. Maurice Sutton, who started in place of Pinkston was the Wildcats top re-bounder with 8.
La Salle next plays on the road at Rider on Thursday, November 29th. Villanova returns to action on Saturday, December 1st when they visit Vanderbilt as part of the SEC vs. Big East Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. That game gets underway at 5pm and will air on ESPN 2.
You can view an expanded photo gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):