Zack stars as La Salle tops Duquesne

Posted: February 03, 2014

It's difficult to imagine a guy who stands 6-feet, 11-inches tall can sometimes seem lost in a crowd.

On such occasions, it's not Steve Zack's fault. La Salle's junior center plays on a team with savvy veteran point guard Tyreek Duren, the explosive Tyrone Garland of Southwest Philly Floater fame, and a more-heralded classmate in Jerrell Wright.

But Zack couldn't help but be noticed in La Salle's 71-63 win over Duquesne in an Atlantic Ten Conference game Saturday at Tom Gola Arena. He was the most complete player on the floor as the Explorers (12-9, 4-3) ended a three-game losing streak.

Zack shook La Salle from its lethargy by opening the second half with three quick baskets, giving the Explorers the impetus to stretch a two-point halftime edge into a lead that reached 15. He said his early second-half scoring spree was not by design.

"That was just in the flow of the game," said Zack, who had a season-high 16 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 2 steals. "I'm not demanding the ball inside - that's just how we play as a team. We just look for the open guy."

Forced to play catch-up after La Salle grabbed a quick 10-point lead early in the second half, Duquesne (10-10, 2-5) couldn't rattle the Explorers with its persistent full-court press. A big reason La Salle held firm was lob passes over the press that frequently landed in Zack's outstretched hands. He's usually in the right spot, whether it's against the press, setting screens, or positioning himself for a rebound.

"He's a high-IQ guy," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "He's a big target, so you can get him the ball against the press or against the zone. He's a good passer. He's just a really good all-around basketball player. It's not often you find a big guy who knows how to get open and is comfortable catching and passing the ball in the perimeter."

Zack, who tops the A-10 with slightly more than 10 rebounds a game, had his 12th double-double of the season, the most by an Explorer since Rasual Butler in 2001-02. He's fifth in the country in double-doubles.

Honors. The team wore a No. 15 in a black circle on its uniforms in honor of the late Tom Gola. A moment of silence for Gola was held before the game and a video tribut was shown at halftime. . . . Jack Moore, the first African American men's basketball player at La Salle, was among five athletes inducted into the university's Hall of Athletes. The former Overbrook High star helped the Explorers to the 1952 NIT title.

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