Not many basketball teams can say they’ve played in paradise. For La Salle men’s basketball playing in paradise is what they’ve been doing this past week as part of the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S Virgin Islands. But paradise for the Explorers will not include a championship as the team fell to Providence, 63-71, in the semifinals.
La Salle started the game quickly, taking a nine point lead in the first five minutes with baskets from Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright. Providence would take the lead back and control the first half ending it with a score of 30-26.
The second half would go much the same with Providence making shots and keeping the lead. With less then 10 minutes remaining the Blue and Gold was down 55-42. At this point Tyreek Duren stepped up and scored 12 points in a 16-4 run. With 3:34 to go, La Salle was only down by one (59-58).
This is as close as La Salle would get as the Friars would go on another run and finish the game 63-71.
“We didn’t lose to a good team today. We lost to a very good team,” said head coach Dr. John Giannini. “We gave them all we can handle and we played our hearts out.”
Offensively La Salle didn’t struggle as much as they had in previous games. The team shot 45 percent from the field. Duren was tied as the lead scorer with Wright, with both putting up a total of 16 points. They were followed by Tyrone Garland with 14.
Defensively Zack was on his game with a total of 11 rebound and 11 points, his second double-double of the season. Wright finished the game with a total of six rebounds.
Giannini is not discouraged about the loss, “We’re not that far away. We have to try to get a little bit better, have fewer lapses and try to win some of these close games.”
La Salle will play for third place after going 1-1 in the tournament so far. The Explorers demolished Morgan state in the first round, 78-59.
La Salle will play University of Northern Northern Iowa at 8.p.m on Nov. 25. UNI is 2-3 after an 80-86 loss to Maryland in the other Paradise Jam semifinal.