"It was a challenge that Coach G put in front of us and our seniors had no choice but to step up," said guard Tyreek Duren, who had five rebounds to go with 17 points and six assists and directed a La Salle offense that committed only four turnovers.
"He told us, 'Either you all go out today and rebound or we're going to start making changes in the lineup,' " Duren said. "People stepped up and took that challenge. We didn't do too good in the first half, but everybody stepped up in the second half," when La Salle held a 24-18 advantage.
Giannini loved the response to the challenge. "Our effort was great," he said. "When you play defense and you rebound and you don't turn it over, you play good basketball. We just couldn't make shots."
The Explorers (1-1) shot just 38.5 percent from the field and tried only nine three-pointers, making three. Sophomore forward Jerrell Wright hit on just 4 of 17 shots and Duren went 5 of 17.
But Wright had a game-high 12 rebounds. Guard Tyrone Garland, who was not in the starting lineup because of his zero-rebound performance against Manhattan, grabbed three boards, including a key one with 20 seconds remaining that led to a pair of free throws.
"That rebound really iced the game," Giannini said.
La Salle led for much of the game but could not put away the Bobcats (1-1). A jumper by freshman Kasim Chandler (19 points) moved them into a 56-56 tie with 6 minutes, 29 seconds to play and after the Explorers scored seven of the next eight points to lead, 63-57, free throws enabled Quinnipiac to close to within 67-65 with 37.7 seconds remaining.
But Sam Mills and Garland each hit a pair of free throws, and Garland's emphatic dunk in the waning seconds sent La Salle's enthusiastic student section home happy.