LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - La Salle jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead tonight before falling into a deep slumber but woke up in time to escape with a 69-60 win over Rider.
The Explorers improved to 6-2 heading into Saturday's game at top-ranked Kansas. They hold a 23-6 all-time series advantage over Rider, which dropped to 6-4 while suffering its first loss at Alumni Gym since Jan. 30.
Clutch foul shots by Rodney Green (3 for 4), Yves Mekongo (2 for 2) and Kimmani Barrett (2 for 2) in the final 1 minute, 44 seconds clinched the victory. The trio combined to make seven free throws after Jhamar Youngblood's foul shots pulled Rider within two points (62-60) with 1:56 to play.
Green and Aaric Murray had big games for La Salle.
Green made 3 of 4 three-pointers in scoring a game-high 25 points. The 6-foot-5 guard also had seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Murray, a 6-10 freshman center, added 12 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots, and a steal. La Salle blocked 10 shots.
Green's and Murray's individual performances were needed as the Broncs cut into the Explorers' halftime advantage.
Rider pulled within two twice in the second half. The second time came on Youngblood's foul shots.
But Mekongo made two free throws to give the Explorers a four-point advantage 12 seconds later. After Youngblood missed a jumper, Green converted two foul shots to make it a 66-60 game with 1:04 to go. Barrett followed with two before Green made one with 35 seconds left.
Ryan Thompson led Rider with 16 points.
La Salle finished with 34 offensive rebounds and made 17 of 22 foul shots.
Notes. La Salle's 6-8 twins, Jerrell and Terrell Williams, were back after serving one-game suspensions for violating a team rule. Jerrell started at forward, while Terrell contributed from the bench.
Rider has more players from the Philadelphia area than La Salle. The Broncs' Mike Ringgold (Roman Catholic), Novar Gadson (Bartram), Brandon Penn (Paul Robeson), Patrick Mansell (Cheltenham) and Carl Johnson (Lower Merion) went to high school in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Thompson (Lenape) played in South Jersey. La Salle has five players from Philadelphia.