Mills and La Salle hold off George Washington

La Salle's Tyreek Duren passes to teammate Jerrell Wright (25) as George Washington's Kevin Larsen defends. CHARLES FOX / Staff
La Salle's Tyreek Duren passes to teammate Jerrell Wright (25) as George Washington's Kevin Larsen defends. CHARLES FOX / Staff
Posted: January 11, 2014

There has been very little in-between this season for La Salle senior guard Sam Mills.

Mills scored a season-high 17 points Thursday night in a 76-72 victory over George Washington, marking the sixth time he has reached double figures. He also has scored five or fewer points six times.

La Salle (8-6, 1-0 Atlantic Ten) needed the high-scoring Mills against a vastly improved George Washington team at Tom Gola Arena.

Tyrone Garland scored 15 points and Tyreek Duren had 13 for La Salle. George Washington (12-3, 0-1) received 15 points from Patricio Garino and former Villanova forward Isaiah Armwood. The Colonials are a much different team from the 13-17 version of last year.

"This is what Sam is capable of doing and I'm not surprised," Duren said.

Although he is known more for his defense, Mills is also a solid three-point shooter. He hit 5 of 7 from beyond the arc against the Colonials.

"In the beginning of the season, it was tough and shots weren't going in," said Mills, who has scored in double figures in three of the last four games. "We have had on-and-off games, but the key is to be consistent."

Mills' three-pointer with 3 minutes, 48 seconds left extended La Salle's lead to 66-62.

The Explorers went up by 70-64 when center Steve Zack converted a three-point play with 1:31 left, but the Colonials kept coming back.

Garino scored on a driving layup and the Colonials called a timeout, down by 74-72 with 6.3 seconds left.

Joe McDonald of the Colonials stole the ball but was called for a charge and La Salle called a timeout with 2.6 seconds left.

Taking the charge? That was Mills.

"I saw him coming for a wide-open layup, so I had to stop him and went over and took that charge," Mills said.

Even when Mills wasn't scoring as well early in the season, his defense didn't suffer.

"Sam's charge sums up what he is all about and what he has done the last three years," La Salle coach John Giannini said.

After the play, Duren was fouled and hit two free throws to seal the win.

Sophomore Rohan Brown contributed six points and six rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.

His offense was a bonus, and on this night it was needed. The same was the case with Mills, who entered the game averaging 7.8 points and exited with a clutch scoring performance.

Zack led the Explorers' defensive effort with five blocked shots.

"I think defense won the game for us, and when we are making shots, that makes all the difference in the world," Giannini said.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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