La Salle forward Ed Croswell got the ball inside. He took one hard dribble and pounded his shoulder into the overmatched defender’s chest and finished a layup. It was his eighth point, and he was looking like the most dominant player on the court.
Richmond changed that narrative instantly. The blows to the chest were being delivered by the Spiders. Richmond (18-6, 8-3 Atlantic 10) went on a 21-0 run after Croswell’s eighth point and defeated La Salle, 74-47, Wednesday night at Tom Gola Arena.
The Spiders ended the first half on an 11-0 run and started the second with 10 straight points. Sheriff Kenney ended the drought with a transition three, but the Explorers (11-12, 2-9) were down 21 at that point.
La Salle had nine turnovers at the half, and Richmond turned those into 19 of its 35 points.
Croswell led the Explorers with eight points in the first half and finished with 10. He made four of the team’s eight field goals in the first half. Kenney led the Explorers with 14 points.
Richmond dominated the boards with a 47-29 rebounding edge and caused 10 steals. Grant Golden and Blake Francis led the Spiders with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
La Salle’s turnovers were costly. Each Explorer who played 18 or more minutes had a turnover. La Salle won the turnover battle, 19-11, but it was outscored, 19-11, in points off turnovers.
”We had a severe drought at the end of the first half where we couldn’t buy a basket, and that really affected our energy and effort,” La Salle coach Ashley Howard said.
”We could’ve just pounded the ball inside, but when you get down, it’s hard to just pound the ball inside,” Howard said. “You got to create turnovers, you got to play with effort, you got to get easy points, and we didn’t get that.”
”I think Richmond is clearly a better team than us right now,” Howard said. “That’s two times that we’ve played against Richmond where we didn’t play with any fight, and that’s just not us. We take pride in battling teams to the end.”
Ayinde Hikim did not play for La Salle. Howard said that it was a “team thing” that was addressed. Hikim was coming off a game against St. Joseph’s in which he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
La Salle’s plan in the second half was to speed up the Spiders. The reward was it led to 19 Richmond turnovers, but the risk was 17 fast-break points and 44 points in the paint allowed.