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La Salle home for the holidays

Explorers to host three non-conference games in coming weeks before starting Atlantic 10 schedule.

A win was there for the taking for La Salle Saturday afternoon at Cornell, but a huge second half surge by the Big Red dropped the Explorers to 5-5 on the season.

Coach John Giannini was shorthanded for this one as center Vernon Goodridge sat out with injured ribs. Goodridge suffered the injury in last Wednesday's win over Rider when he attempted to draw a charge on a layup, and was hit in the ribs by a knee.

Goodridge's injury was critical in Saturday's loss. Cornell 7-footer Jeff Foote went off for 25 points against the smaller Explorers. La Salle led by as many as 14 in the first half, but faltered after the break, due in large part to just 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) shooting from the floor. Cornell shot 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) in the second half and outscored the Explorers by 52-32.

It would have been a good, quality win for the Explorers, something they don't really have yet this year. They've played very well against very good teams, including Florida State, Connecticut and Southern Mississippi, but have yet to grab a win against a quality opponent.

The upcoming schedule is favorable for La Salle, as it will  host Mount St. Mary's, Manhattan and Howard in its next three games. Three wins would mean a lot of Giannini's squad, especially being as conference play starts after that when La Salle will host Temple on January 11.

After 10 games, the team is still trying to find itself, especially on the offensive end, where turnovers have plagued them all season. Giannini was again happy with his club's defensive play on Saturday. The Explorers use their longness and athleticism very well at the defensive end. They are all able to make switches in the man defense and do so very well. If they can not only win these next three games but also find a little more consistency on the offensive end, the Explorers should be entering conference play with a full head of steam.