After stumbling badly in consecutive nonleague games at home against Bucknell and Rider, La Salle set out to end the trend Wednesday night against Towson.
But in a contest at Tom Gola Arena that required overtime, La Salle lost again. This time, the final was 93-90.
Towson, which had led for the entire second half before falling behind, 75-74, on a three-point jumper by La Salle guard Sam Mills with just under four minutes left, knotted the score at 86 on a three-pointer by forward Isaiah Philmore with 1.8 seconds remaining.
On the play, Philmore grabbed an offensive rebound, scurried to the arc at the top of the key, and nailed the game-tying shot.
When La Salle forward Steve Weingarten attempted to throw a baseball pass on the ensuing possession, his attempt hit the scoreboard hanging over midcourt. Towson took over, but a shot by forward Braxton Dupree fell short as the buzzer sounded, forcing the overtime.
Towson, which took the lead at 89-88 with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left in the extra session and never relinquished it, improved to 4-7. The Tigers received 27 points each from Philmore and Dupree, and 23 from guard Josh Brown.
La Salle (6-7) went down despite shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and outrebounding Towson by 10. The same problem, defense, that caused the Explorers to go down to Bucknell and Rider plagued them against the Tigers.
"I thought we battled hard, but certainly we are defensively challenged right now," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "We're hurting awfully bad right now. That was a very hard way to lose, but we're not going to make things harder. At this point, we have to be positive."
The Explorers were without starting guard Rueben Guillandeaux, a 14.7-points-per-game scorer who traveled home to Brooklyn for Christmas and came down with the flu. Forward Jerrell Williams, who reached a career high with 24 points against Rider, established a new personal best with 32 points to go with 12 rebounds.
Williams' energy throughout the game kept La Salle within reach of the lead. Freshman guard Tyreek Duren (19 points) also was active for the Explorers.
"We had them at the end, but [Philmore] made a tough shot," Williams said. "We're in a slump right now, and we have to fight our way out of it."
Towson, which had also dropped two in a row, losing four of its previous five, led La Salle by 43-37 at halftime. The visitors made 16 of 27 shots during the first 20 minutes, and committed four turnovers to nine for La Salle.
Beginning with a little more than eight minutes to go before intermission, Towson scored nine straight points to open a 29-17 advantage. But with the Tigers up by 40-32, the Explorers closed to 40-37 on a three-point jumper by reserve guard Cole Stefan and two free throws by Williams.
Towson guard Josh Brown nailed a shot from beyond the arc with six seconds remaining to end the first-half scoring.
Williams had game highs of 15 points and nine rebounds in the first half, and La Salle's leading scorer, 6-10 center Aaric Murray, had three points and three rebounds.
Notes. After hosting Binghamton on Sunday, La Salle will open its Atlantic Ten season at George Washington on Jan. 5. A Jan. 12 date with Penn is the only other out-of-conference outing the Explorers have left.