JORDAN PRICE scored 14 points in the first 5 minutes, on four threes and a breakaway layup. Playing against Lafayette, which lost three 1,000-point scorers from the Patriot League champions, Monday night at Gola Arena really felt like the night when Price, a born scorer, might go off for 50.
He settled for a very calm 33 as La Salle beat Lafayette, 83-75, in a game that was never really in doubt as the Explorers led from the start.
"Somebody asked if he was looking to (score) coming out in the second half," La Salle coach John Giannini said of his junior star. "I think he did that coming out of the hospital after being born . . . Seriously, he's always been like that offensively. If you go back and talk to people on the AAU circuit and the high school circuit, he's been a 40-, 50-point guy in those environments since he was young."
Price has scored 88 points in three games. He was super efficient again - scoring all those points on just 14 shots. He was 11-for-14 overall, 6-for-8 from three, 5-for-7 from the line. It was his 10th 25-point-plus effort in just 36 games for La Salle. His 30th point came on a ridiculous, between-the-legs move in lane traffic, followed by a spin move and a casual flip off glass.
"I just take what the defense gives me basically, that's all," Price said in perfect 21st century athlete speak.
Actually, he took whatever he wanted. He had 30 with 13 minutes left and then started to find his teammates.
La Salle (3-0) had its full complement of players for the first time this season as three returned from concussions. Big man Tony Washington was a revelation with 14 points (6-for-8, 2-for-2 from the foul line) and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes off the bench.
"He was terrific," Giannini said.
Washington had bumped heads with a teammate in practice. The coach always said when Washington got a chance, he would be ready. And he was.
"He's only practiced two times completely live with contact in the last two weeks," Giannini said. "That's what he did in our scrimmage, that's what he did in practice pretty consistently. Can he do it on game night? That's really impressive."
The coach expects that Washington's field-goal percentage at the end of the year "is really going to stun people."
The Explorers had 30 points after just 8 1/2 minutes. When they got a shot up, they scored every time but one. It was almost too easy. Then they started to turn it over (17 for the game) and foul Lafayette on just about every possession, so it was just 44-41 at the break.
Price went off again to start the second, the lead grew to 18 several times and deep subs were in late.
Lafayette got 23 points from relentless big man Matt Klinewski (Eastern High, Voorhees, N.J.) and seven points, eight assists and one turnover from point guard Nic Lindner (Germantown Academy). Fran O'Hanlon, coaching his 601st game, has a team in his image but without many of the recent mainstays. The Leopards got 20 assists on their 26 field goals but could not deal with Price or La Salle's rebounding dominance. The Explorers got 43 boards to just 25 for Lafayette.
"Like ourselves, Lafayette is a team that is just going to keep getting better, and they're magnificently coached and they have multiple shooters and they have good size and it's just a matter of time before they start winning games," Giannini said. "They've played a very tough schedule, obviously."
La Salle has been home against three teams it was supposed to beat. And did.
"When you beat a good team and you're up double digits most of the way and you still think you can improve, you have to feel pretty good about the state of things," Giannini said.