Tyreek Duren's unerring jump shots and heady floor game certainly pleased La Salle coach John Giannini. So did Ramon Galloway's hyperactivity and the continued progress of freshman big man Jerrell Wright.
Yet, what Giannini wants more than anything from this season's Explorers is a commitment to defense, an important aspect of the game that was of little interest to the 2010-11 Explorers.
The kind of play that used to drive Giannini to histrionics is no longer acceptable to the La Salle players, and it was again evident in Thursday night's breezy, 70-53 win over Boston University at Tom Gola Arena.
With Duren scoring 12 of his 23 points in the first 10 minutes, La Salle (9-4) took control of the game early and rolled to its eighth consecutive home win dating back to last season, its longest home winning streak since 1990. Duren also had seven rebounds and five assists. Galloway had 13 points.
The Explorers went into the game ranked second in the Atlantic Ten Conference in field-goal percentage defense and fourth in opponents' scoring. They have held three opponents in the low 50s, and there were stretches of Thursday's game when the Explorers gave the Terriers (4-9) no room to execute their offense.
La Salle, which has one game before A-10 play, was without starting sophomore guard Sam Mills, who sat out the game with a sprained ankle that is not considered severe. Freshman D.J. Peterson started in Mills' place.
Meantime, BU was at a significant disadvantage without guard D.J. Irving, their top playmaker and second leading scoring. The sophomore from Archbishop Carroll suffered a concussion during a 68-43 loss to Villanova two weeks ago. Irving is averaging 12.6 points and 4.9 assists a game. His place was taken by senior Matt Griffin, son of former St. Joseph's coach John Griffin and a graduate of St. Joseph's Prep.
La Salle hadn't played in a week, but there were no signs of rust as the Explorers bolted out to a 25-8 lead as Duren did what a quality point guard is supposed to do - energize his team. The sophomore from Neumann-Goretti drained three jumpers, including two from three-point distance, and got a layup off his own steal at midcourt. In the first half, Duren had 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
Galloway, a rangy transfer from South Carolina, had 11 points including a thunderous dunk in the first 20 minutes. The Explorers led by 19 with more than seven minutes remaining in the half, and the Terriers never seriously threatened.
BU is well-stocked with Philly area players, but it was senior Darryl Partin, a native of Seattle who played his first two seasons at La Salle, who attracted most of the interest from the Explorers defense. Partin went into the game averaging 20.8 points, 12th in the nation. But the Explorers made Partin labor to score 12 points.