La Salle basketball starts with a win

Posted: November 12, 2011

La Salle couldn't have had a more positive start to the season than its effort on defense.

Defensively challenged during a frustrating campaign last season, the Explorers got a pair of steals from sophomore point guard Tyreek Duren to open a convincing, 79-53 victory over Lafayette on Friday night at Tom Gola Arena.

"I don't think anyone thought we'd be any good, but I think winning by that much really gave the fans something to look forward to," said Duren, who scored a game-high 17 points.

The excitement of the win was tempered by an injury to Ramon Galloway, a Philadelphia native playing in his first game for La Salle after transferring from South Carolina.

Galloway was taken off on a stretcher with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first half after suffering a head and neck injury while defending against Ryan Willen. Galloway was in a neck brace and body straps, but appeared to have movement in his hands and legs. He was taken to an area hospital and his condition was improving, according to La Salle spokesman Kevin Bonner.

"He had movement, and you at least have the peace of mind that nothing horrible just happened," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "But we have no idea the extent of it."

The injury notwithstanding, the season couldn't have started better for the Explorers, who were 20th in the country in scoring (76.8 ppg.) last season but stumbled to a disappointing 15-18 record because of defensive deficiencies and chemistry problems.

And despite losing nearly 42 points of offense with the departure of Ruben Guillandeaux and Jerrell Williams, plus highly touted center Aaric Murray, who transferred to West Virginia, there is optimism at La Salle. That's because, according to Giannini, the mix of players is better, and they are more willing to play defense.

"Whenever everyone tries hard, supports each other, and shares the ball, you have good chemistry," Giannini said."

Said Duren: "Everybody was talking [on defense] and nobody was being quiet. Last year, we didn't do any of that. That's why we had a lot of [defensive] collapses."

Earl Pettis scored 16 points for the Explorers, who got solid contributions from newcomers Taylor Dunn, son of former Penn State coach Jerry Dunn; Galloway; Jerrell Wright; and D.J. Peterson.

Jim Mower, a St. Joseph's Prep graduate, and Dan Trist had 12 points to lead Lafayette, which played without preseason all-Patriot League pick Tony Johnson (back injury).

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