St. Bonaventure ends La Salle's season

John Giannini said after the loss to St. Bonaventure that he was proud of his Explorers .    MIKE LAWRIE / Getty
John Giannini said after the loss to St. Bonaventure that he was proud of his Explorers .    MIKE LAWRIE / Getty
Posted: March 15, 2014

NEW YORK - A year after making a run to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16, La Salle ended this season with a much different vibe.

Even though forward Jerrell Wright scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds Thursday, eighth-seeded La Salle suffered an 82-72 loss to ninth-seeded St. Bonaventure in an Atlantic 10 tournament opener for both at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

St. Bonaventure (17-14) will meet top-seeded St. Louis in the quarterfinals Friday at noon. La Salle will contemplate a season that began with high expectations but ended in mediocrity.

Although they had a five-game winning streak at the beginning of January, the Explorers' up-and-down nature was reflected in their 15-16 record.

"We didn't win the way we wanted to, we didn't play the way we wanted to, but I really like [the players] as people and am proud of the team as people and proud of their effort today," La Salle coach John Giannini said.

St. Bonaventure ended a four-game losing streak by making 30 of 56 shots from the field, and 18 of 20 from the foul line. The Bonnies committed just six turnovers.

The winners pounded the ball inside. The frontcourt duo of 6-foot-8 Marquise Simmons and 7-foot Youssou Ndoye combined for 34 points and 17 rebounds.

This was a game that La Salle never led, although the Explorers got within 53-52 on Tyreek Duren's driving layup with 12 minutes, 26 seconds remaining.

"We were pretty much fighting back the whole game and used a lot of energy in trying to do it," said Duren, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.

With the score still 53-52, La Salle's Tyrone Garland missed a baseline drive and the Explorers believed that he had been fouled. Giannini thought that if La Salle had scored, it could have been a turning point.

"That could have gotten us over the hump on the scoreboard and just emotionally," the coach said.

La Salle center Steve Zack had 11 points and 11 rebounds, but Garland, one of the heroes in last season's run, was held scoreless, shooting 0 for 7 from the field.

"We tried to make him a jump shooter as much as we could," Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said. "He is a really talented kid and had some open looks, and he just missed, thank goodness."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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