In winning three of their last four games heading into a Big Five contest with Penn, the La Salle Explorers had grown somewhat comfortable relying on the exploits of leading scorer Jordan Price.
They didn't have to do that Tuesday night at Tom Gola Arena, where the Explorers had a strong first half and received a balanced offensive effort in an 84-67 rout of the Quakers.
Five Explorers scored in double figures.
Price, who scored 85 points in the previous three games, was the last of La Salle's key players to exit when he took his game-high 18 points to the bench with 4 minutes, 38 seconds remaining. At the time, the Explorers were leading by 80-59.
Already seated on the bench were center Steve Zack (17 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Jerrell Wright (13 points, seven boards, two blocks), and freshman Amar Stukes, who came off the bench to score a career-high 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Cleon Roberts added 12 points for La Salle.
La Salle led, 47-35, at halftime. The Explorers took their largest lead of the game, 78-56, with 6:50 left.
The Explorers (8-5, 1-2 Big Five) are convinced they can consistently score the way they did against Penn (3-7, 0-2 Big Five). They crushed the Quakers on the boards, 35-21, and produced their highest scoring effort of the season.
"We know we can score the ball," Zack said. "Right now our main focus is our defense. We gave up 67 points tonight. We're all Division I players and we can all score. But the focus has to be on our defense."
Darien Nelson Henry led the Quakers with 15 points. Leading scorer Tony Hicks never recovered from a slow start and finished with 10. The loss was Penn's second in a row after winning three straight. The Quakers will not play again until they travel to Princeton to begin conference play on Jan. 10.
Penn coach Jerome Allen was displeased that his young team was manhandled on the boards. He was also disappointed with the Quakers' 19 turnovers.
"They did a great job of imposing their will," Allen said. "They forced us into 12 turnovers in the first half and they were able to get out and play free. They were tougher, they were more competitive, they got all the 50-50 balls. We're not good enough to not cover those areas and expect to win."