Last year when the teams faced each other, the Bison had their way with the Explorers, dropping them, 89-77, at La Salle. Giannini and his players never forgot that loss. Instead, they pointed to this game as a measuring stick for the 2011-12 season against a team that returned four starters, including the Patriot League player of the year, center Mike Muscala. That team reached the NCAA tournament and has its eyes focused on a repeat appearance.
The result Saturday was a resounding win for the Explorers (5-3), their easiest and largest win of the season. Muscala, whom Giannini went as far to say after the game would one day play in the NBA, was a useless 1 for 9 from the field for two points. The much quicker Explorers swarmed him all night, denying entry passes that Bucknell is used to getting inside to its 6-foot-10 big man.
Sparked by a suffocating defense that held the Bison to just 20-for-61 shooting (32.8 percent), La Salle led by 20 points by halftime and by 30 with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.
Winner of three in a row, La Salle got a balanced performance at both ends. The Explorers connected on 29 of 59 field goal attempts (49.2 percent). And for the second game in a row they were lethal from behind the arc, connecting on 12 of 27.
Bucknell had just one double-figures scorer, forward Joe Willman, who finished with 14. Conversely, La Salle received a game-high 20 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and two assists from forward Ramon Galloway; guard Earl Pettis added 18 points, five boards, and three assists; guard Tyreek Duren added 11 points; and Devon White came off the bench to contribute 11.
When Giannini showed up before the game, he made no mention to his players that he was standing at the doorstep of his 400th victory.
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.