CORAL GABLES, Fla. - La Salle headed to warm and sunny Miami to take on the Hurricanes yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Explorers, they could not overcome the cold that was their shooting performance, as they fell to Miami, 71-58.
The Explorers jumped out to a fast start, scoring 12 points in the first 4 minutes. The following 36 minutes were nothing like the first 4. La Salle managed just 46 points the rest of the way.
The shooting was less than stellar for the Explorers, as it has been for much of the season. They shot 38.3 percent from the floor (23-for-60) and sank just seven of their 19 attempts from beyond the arc. Coach John Giannini credited Miami's defense for La Salle's poor offensive numbers.
"The fact that they have five players between 6-foot-6 and 7 feet who fly all over the court and make the court very small," Giannini said. "I don't know if you ever played against a team that averages about 6-foot-9 and are athletic and are committed to playing a good zone and do it every day in practice. It is not easy."
Tyreek Duren led the way for La Salle. He scored eight points in those first 4 minutes, and managed 18 total for the game. He was 7-for-17 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from distance. He also added five rebounds and two assists.
"I think Tyreek played hard," Giannini said. "I think he is getting back physically. Five rebounds is a lot he gave us on the defensive end. He gave us good leadership. I thought he played really hard, and his stat line speaks for itself. He didn't turn it over, he scrapped for rebounds. He tried to make some plays, he made some threes. I think he did some good things."
Rion Brown was the spark for the Hurricanes. The guard scored 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting and collected nine rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive glass.
"The mindset was when I was running the offense that they were really sticking to me, not really helping off of me," Brown said. "I couldn't really catch the ball, honestly. I just said, 'When my teammates shoot it, I'm going to attack the glass and try to get us extra opportunities.' "
Sam Mills had a solid game for the Explorers in his return home. The Sunrise, Fla., native dumped in 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, including making three of his eight attempts from downtown.
"It was definitely nice," Mills said about having his family in the stands. "Just seeing them in the crowd and playing in front of them. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the win, but hopefully we can regroup before our next game and get that win."
Rebounding was a big issue for La Salle all day. Miami won the battle of the boards, 40-35. The offensive glass was especially friendly to the Hurricanes, as they pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, most of which were tip-ins or putbacks. Miami coach Jim Larranaga was pleased with his team's performance.
"This is our best game of the season so far. We shared the ball. We had 13 assists. We only had seven turnovers," Larranaga said. "We shot 47 percent, which is good for us. We defended well. We held them to 38 percent."
The first half was much of the same story as it has been for the Explorers all season. Despite their hot start, they went into the locker room trailing, 34-24. In the first 20 minutes, they shot just 32.1 percent (9-for-28) from the field and were 3-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Miami had much more success shooting the ball in the first half than La Salle did. They managed to shoot 48.4 percent from the floor, making 15 of their 31 first half shots. They did not fare well from downtown, making just 27.3 percent of their attempts. Reed led the team with eight points in the first 20 minutes.
La Salle now takes a long break before taking on Penn at the Palestra on Jan. 4.