NEWARK, Del. - There are two words no coach wants to talk about in December. John Giannini didn't want to hear them.

Final exams.

Before the Explorers took nine days off for finals, they were on a five-game winning streak - their longest run in nearly six years.

In their first game after the break, the Explorers frittered away an 11-point first-half lead and lost to Delaware, 70-66, in front of 2,345 Monday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

On the streak, La Salle (7-4) shot 42 percent from three-point range. In this loss, the Explorers shot just 2 for 16. They won each of those five games by 12 or more points.

"We didn't share the ball well," Giannini said. "But I wasn't disappointed with our effort."

La Salle's coach didn't want to blame the layoff, since the Blue Hens (5-4) also were off for nine days.

In addition to the horrid long-range shooting, there were fouls. The Explorers had 21 - Delaware just 11.

La Salle looked just plain rusty.

"Before the nine days, everyone was on a roll. Everybody was comfortable on offense," Earl Pettis said. "We had nine days off. We practiced, but it wasn't the same as a game. We don't want to use that as an excuse. Delaware is a good team."

The Explorers led by 29-18 with 4 minutes, 47 seconds to play in the first half, but the Blue Hens cut the margin to six at the half.

Delaware missed all eight of its three-point tries in the first half.

In the second half, the Blue Hens ran off nine straight for a 50-47 lead with 12:23 to play.

Pettis' layup with 9:29 left gave La Salle its final lead, 54-52.

Kyle Anderson scored five straight points to break a 60-all tie, and give Delaware a 65-60 lead with 3:14 to play.

"We don't have an excuse. It didn't go our way," Pettis said. "We didn't get a lot of layups."

Devon White kept the Explorers in the game. He had 11 of his team-high 15 points in the second half. For just the second time this season, La Salle had five players in double figures. Pettis had 12, Jerrell Wright, Sam Mills, and Ramon Galloway each scored 11.

Galloway, who had averaged 19.5 in the five-game run, had an abysmal game - missing 16 of his 20 shots.

"He was getting frustrated. That's a natural reaction," Giannini said.

The Explorers have three more nonconference games before they start Atlantic Ten play on Jan. 4 against Xavier.