La Salle snapped a seven-game losing streak and kept St. Joseph’s winless in conference play with an 83-66 victory Saturday evening at Tom Gola Arena.
The Explorers (11-11, 2-8 Atlantic 10) got off to a great start, shooting 10-of-20 from three-point range in the first half en route to a 43-29 halftime lead. They stayed ahead by double digits throughout the entire second half. The smallest the margin got to at any point was 10 points.
Ryan Daly had a game-high 26 points for the Hawks (4-19, 0-10), surpassing 20 points for the 18th time this season.
This was not the game that counts in the Big 5 standings; that’s the regular-season finale March 7 on Hawk Hill.
Daly got his points, of course, but the Explorers did well at not letting anyone else hurt them. The rest of the Hawks shot 2-of-17 combined in the first half, then 10-of-25 in the second. (Daly was 6-of-9, then 3-of-7).
Ed Croswell didn’t start for La Salle because of a coach’s decision, but once he got on the floor St. Joe’s struggled to stop him. He had 14 points and 8 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end, and drew 10 fouls.
David Beatty was the Explorers’ top scorer with 18 points.
“We actually tried to stop him from scoring, and [he got] 26 points. He’s a guy that’s just a baller, man … Savvy, instinct, and that’s what makes Ryan Daly a great player." — La Salle coach Ashley Howard.
“If you’re 10-0, you worry about over-confidence or arrogance or pride. And if you’re 0-10, you worry about lack of confidence or over-humility or fear. … I want them to become 40 minutes of the great possessions that we watch them do.” — St. Joe’s coach Billy Lange.
Everyone knew coming in that this was La Salle’s best chance to end its skid, and for St. Joe’s to get its first conference win of the season. But if you take local sentiment out of the analysis — not saying you should, given how close Big 5 games often are — the Explorers were clear favorites all along.
La Salle is 93 places above St. Joe’s in Ken Pomeroy’s national rankings, No. 166 to No. 259. In fact, the three teams above the Explorers in the A-10 standings have worse Pomeroy rankings: No. 233 George Washington (10-4, 4-7 A-10), No. 198 UMass (9-14, 3-7) and No. 171 George Mason (13-9, 2-7).
Maybe that means those four teams are still carrying halos from non-conference play. But the Explorers have been doing some things right, and this game was a reward for it.
As for the Hawks, this week could be pretty rough: at home to surging St. Bonaventure on Tuesday, then at Rhode Island next Saturday. There are games later this month against Mason and lowly Fordham and a rematch on Hawk Hill of last month’s overtime thriller at Davidson. But it might still be a while before that first conference win.