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Losing streak reaches four games as La Salle falls short against Davidson

After making 38.5% of their first-half threes, the Explorers failed to make a single shot from beyond the arc in the second half.

Andrés Marrero (left) of La Salle and Grant Huffman of Davidson go after a loose ball during the 1st half on Jan. 24, 2023.
Andrés Marrero (left) of La Salle and Grant Huffman of Davidson go after a loose ball during the 1st half on Jan. 24, 2023.Read moreCharles Fox / Staff Photographer

Despite an early seven-point lead against Davidson, a second-half collapse sealed La Salle’s fate and a 64-57 loss Tuesday at Tom Gola Arena.

La Salle (8-12, 2-5 Atlantic 10) was unable to snap its losing streak — which now sits at four straight games.

Tuesday’s game also was a celebration of life for Brother Ed Sheehy ‘68, a former faculty member and team chaplain who died in December.

Jumping ahead early

Playing from behind has been a familiar experience for the Explorers this season, as they’ve trailed at halftime in each of their last four games. La Salle started a different lineup than usual, with senior guard Josh Nickelberry, sophomore guard Khalil Brantley, and junior guard Jhamir Brickus — three of La Salle’s top four scorers — coming off the bench late in the first half. The new lineup clicked at first for the Explorers, who led by as many as seven points in the first half.

“Their sense of timing was different than mine. We’ll leave it at that,” La Salle head coach Fran Dunphy said. “Good guys, but they’ve got to pay attention to detail.”

La Salle’s early lead was largely because of the Explorers’ 24 first-half rebounds, including 11 offensive boards — compared to Davidson’s three — that led to 12 second-chance points.

Redshirt freshman Andrés Marrero, starting his fourth collegiate game, matched his career high in rebounds in the first half alone and tacked on a sixth in the second. Marrero also recorded 10 points and three assists, all in the first half.

“Marrero did a great job in the first half,” Dunphy said. “We just couldn’t get him any looks in the second.”

Sophomore guard Daeshon Shepherd had a career-high14 points off the bench, beating the mark he set in the Explorers’ previous game.

» READ MORE: Rokas Jocius, from Lithuania to La Salle, seeks to develop his game

Faltering from three

Having Nickelberry, Brantley, and Brickus, La Salle’s top three-point threats, on the bench for most of the game had its disadvantages.

After shooting 38.5% from three in the first half, La Salle failed to make a single three-pointer in the second half. The Wildcats capitalized on La Salle’s struggles from behind the arc, going 5-for-11 (45.5%) in the same span.

“We’re struggling to score,” Dunphy said. “When we do get to the rim — we made that a part of our pregame talk together — we’ve got to finish at the rim. If we play them again in the conference tournament, we’re gonna have to play them differently.”

Explorers also were unable to stifle redshirt junior forward Sam Mennenga, who was responsible for 27 points and went 3-for-4 from three. He also had a game-high 11 rebounds.

“Every game’s going to be an absolute war,” Dunphy said. “Trying to get points out of games has been hard for us. But it’s not going to get any easier. We’ve got a tough stretch here. It’s gonna take somebody making shots and really doing a better job at the defensive end. I said it to our guys. I think we’re close. But we’ve got to prove that.”

Up next

The Explorers will look to turn things around as they gear up for a rematch at Rhode Island on Saturday (2 p.m., ESPN+).