John Giannini's La Salle team has a problem. And he knows what it is.
"Defensively, I just think we need to improve in every possible way, especially in terms of just commitment," the coach said after the Explorers fell to visiting Rider, 77-68, at Tom Gola Arena last night. "We've been giving up brutal shooting percentages in second halves. I really think our problems are largely defensive."
That was evident last night as La Salle led 34-33 at intermission but allowed the Broncos to go on a 22-6 run to start the second half.
Rider ended up shooting 17-for-30 (56.7 percent) in the final half while La Salle, by comparison, shot 11-for-33 (33.3 percent).
The result? The Explorers' third straight loss.
Overall, La Salle senior forward Jerrell Williams scored a career-high 24 points and added 14 rebounds, and sophomore center Aaric Murray had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Ruben Guillandeaux and freshman Sam Mills added 10 points each.
Rider's Novar Gadson led all players with 25 points.
The Broncos hit six of their first nine baskets and got nine quick points from Gadson to take a 23-16 lead early in the first half.
La Salle (6-6) battled back, and led by one at the half.
The lead seesawed in the early portion of the second half, with three lead changes and three ties.
Justin Robinson hit a three to put the Broncos ahead, 45-40, with 15 minutes to play in the game. Two minutes later, Guillandeaux tied it at 47 with a three-pointer, his first points of the game, and the Explorers went on a 6-2 run to take a 54-49 lead.
But Rider (8-5) grabbed the lead for good after a jumper by Mike Ringgold gave the Broncos a 55-54 edge with 9:17 to play.
The Explorers host Towson on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.