Tavon Allen hit the layup and free throw, then drilled a three-pointer.
Rodney Williams followed with a slam, and suddenly it was a contest.
Drexel scored the first eight points of the second half to make it a one-possession game, but couldn't entirely erase its early deficit as La Salle claimed a 65-55 victory Saturday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. La Salle (5-4), which snapped a four-game losing streak, has won the last six meetings with Drexel (2-6).
"I'm thrilled with the way we responded," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "Just thrilled with the way we responded. I'm an emotional guy. Fortunately, I didn't overreact, and our players didn't either. We stayed the course, and we answered their run, which is a huge part to being a good team."
Cleon Roberts scored a team-high 15 points for La Salle. Jordan Price added 11, and Rohan Brown provided 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Damion Lee had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Drexel. Allen, who missed the Dragons' last game with a knee injury, scored 14 points. Rashann London added 10 points, and Williams finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
The game was the Explorers' first at Drexel since 1983 and the first matchup between the programs since 2005 at the Palestra. Drexel hasn't beaten La Salle since 1997.
Both teams were ineffective on offense for long stretches of the first half.
La Salle missed eight consecutive shots during a six-minute stretch. Not to be outdone, Drexel missed 13 consecutive shots during a 10-minute first-half scoring drought, and hit just 3 of its first 20 shots (15 percent) from the field.
"We really don't worry about offense," Brown said. "Offense is not effort. So if a shot goes in, it's not determined by how hard we play. We work on our defense, and our defense leads to our offense."
La Salle led, 33-22, at halftime.
Drexel's eight-point run to open the second half sliced its deficit to 33-30. But Price hit a three to stem the bleeding, and La Salle continued on an 11-3 run, with another Price three reestablishing the Explorers' double-digit lead, at 44-33, with 141/2 minutes to play.
La Salle led by as many as 13 points late in the game.
"I keep telling our guys, 'We've been holding every team in the 60s. How much defense do you want us to play?' " Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "All right? Seriously. We make bad basketball plays. We do. We're not good at it. Until we get better at it, we're going to struggle like this and be frustrated. That's the bottom line."