"This is the first game I can remember in recent memory where we were just really, clearly outplayed in terms of effort," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "There's no question that St. Bonaventure was the better defensive team, the better rebounding team, the more energetic team, the physically stronger team, and the more aggressive team. I think they were better than us in every area of the game. I think our guys tried, but they were just better."
Aaric Murray led La Salle with 20 points. Yet, take a quick glance at the final stat sheet and you discover it took the standout sophomore 20 field goal attempts (five of which he made) to reach that total.
In a battle of two of the A-10's most talented big men, St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson stole the show from Murray by scoring 24 points. Three teammates joined the junior in double figures as the Bonnies (13-10, 5-5) halted La Salle's three-game road winning streak.
Murray, who was benched by Giannini for much of last weekend's loss to Dayton, had 14 points by halftime and kept the Explorers close.
His second half, however, could be defined by one frustrating sequence: He first missed an easy layup, recovered by collecting the offensive rebound, but had his putback attempt rejected by Nicholson.
By then, with about five minutes remaining, La Salle was already trailing by 19 points.
"I think my shot just wasn't dropping," said Murray, who hit 8 of 10 free throws. "I probably didn't get as many touches [in the second half]."
Murray, nevertheless, also blocked five shots, shared team-best honors with seven rebounds, and for the most part pleased Giannnini with his effort.
"I think he tried," Giannini said. "He didn't play great, but I think he tried. That's what's most important to me."
But as Murray said, and the final score indicated, the Explorers are still aiming for improvement.
"We just need to be mentally tougher," Murray said. "The team that was mentally tougher won. Me personally, I was worrying about refs and stuff like that when I just should've been playing hard like them guys [the Bonnies]."
Ruben Guillandeaux and Sam Mills each added nine points for the Explorers, who were held to their season low in points.
La Salle came into the game second in the A-10 in scoring (77.7 points per game), but shot 19 of 59 (32.2 percent) from the floor and 4 of 17 on three-pointers (23.5).
"I have to look and I see. I think we can maybe try to get some better shots offensively," Giannini said.
Still, La Salle was in the game with 13 minutes remaining, after a Mills three-pointer cut what had been a 47-35 deficit to 47-41. But the Bonnies responded by scoring 16 of the game's next 22 points and led by double figures the rest of the way.
Marquise Simmons collected a career-best 18 points and Demitrius Conger netted all of his 15 points after halftime to complement Nicholson, who also grabbed eight rebounds and went 10 of 17 from the floor despite facing constant double teams.