La Salle stuns No. 19 VCU

Posted: January 27, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Before this week, it had been more than 60 years since La Salle had beaten ranked teams in consecutive games.

The Explorers knocked off their second straight top 25 team in four days Saturday night, when they overcame a horrendous second-half start and held on to defeat No. 19 Virginia Commonwealth, 69-61, in an Atlantic Ten game.

On Wednesday, La Salle stunned No. 9 Butler, 54-53, at Tom Gola Arena.

"This is a great step for us," guard Ramon Galloway said. "The biggest step in probably La Salle program history."

Hold on, coach John Giannini said. "We did win the national championship [in 1954]."

"I'm only speaking for what I've been through," Galloway said. "For me, my teammates and Coach G, it's a huge step. But we have to understand we have to play at this level every time. It can't be we beat Butler and VCU and play like trash against UMass."

Trailing by nine at the break, the Rams scored the first 17 points of the second half to take a 42-34 lead. La Salle committed four turnovers and was 0 for 3 from the floor during the first 51/2 minutes of the half.

"It takes a lot of poise and confidence and guts to withstand that, against such a good team and in such an emotional atmosphere," Giannini said. "But we're a veteran team. We only have one senior that played tonight."

But the Explorers (14-5, 4-2 A-10) went on a 19-3 spree that gave them a 53-47 edge with eight minutes left. Galloway had nine of those points. Another Galloway three-pointer from the corner made it 56-49 before the Rams ran off six straight points.

La Salle's guards spread the floor and did enough damage from the floor and at the foul line to close it out. The Explorers hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final 2:33 to keep VCU (16-5, 4-2) from getting any closer than four.

Galloway finished with a career-high 31 points. Tyreek Duren added 16.

The Explorers didn't have as much trouble with VCU's full-court pressure the rest of the first half. In fact, the Explorers had more steals (5-4) than the Rams in taking a 34-25 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a 14-0 run that was sparked by back-to-back three-pointers by Galloway (11 points in the opening half).

"The difference between who was making a run when is when they forced turnovers," Giannini said. "When they force turnovers, they're as good as anyone anywhere. But we have good guards, a lot of good guards, and we were able to take care of the ball."

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