Explorers fall to Robert Morris

This was not artful. Last season, however, La Salle had many artistic moments. And lost 18 times.

If the Explorers had made just 33.3 percent of their shots in a first half a season ago, the game would have been over because defense was generally a rumor.

In a late afternoon Philly Hoop Group Classic game at the Palestra, the Explorers missed twice as many shots as they made in the first half against Robert Morris, yet found themselves in a dead heat. Why? This La Salle team plays defense so they can hang in games when the ball does not go in the basket.

And it was not going in for anybody over the first 20 minutes. RMU was 6-for-25 in the first half. The Colonials actually missed 13 consecutive shots during one stretch and did not make a basket for 20 possessions. But they, too, were playing defense.

La Salle big man Devon White had four fouls in his 4 minutes of playing time. He did not make the finish line.

There was never any separation. Until the final 5 minutes, the game’s largest lead was four points. It really looked like one of those games where whoever had the ball last would lose.

Eventually, after a 19-19 first half and a second half in which baskets were still quite hard to come by, Robert Morris (4-1) eased away down the stretch and won, 51-44.

La Salle’s three starting guards (Sam Mills, Tyreek Duren and Earl Pettis) came in averaging a combined 49.4 points. They finished with 25, 15 by Mills. La Salle is now 2-3 after an overtime loss at Villanova and a close loss at Pittsburgh.

Velton Jones (North Catholic) came in averaging nearly 21 points per game for Robert Morris. He finished with 14.