La Salle loses in OT in A-10 tourney

ATLANTIC CITY -- Kwamain Mitchell hit a driving layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime to give the ninth-seeded St. Louis Billikens a 62-60 win over 8th-seeded La Salle in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

“We were fortunate to beat them today,” said St. Louis coach Rick Majerus.

La Salle started the game well, jumping to a 12-4 lead, scoring on five of its first six possessions. But the team got cold, finishing the half hitting just 10-for-27 from the floor, and fell behind by 26-24.

It never led in the second half and forced the overtime when Rodney Green (24 points) grabbed a rebound, dribbled the length of the floor and made a layup with one minute, 48 seconds left for a 52-52 tie.

Mitchell, who finished with 18 points, missed a three pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer.

Four straight points by Rodney Green (game-high 24 points) in the overtime gave La Salle a 60-58 lead with 1:10 left, but Tommie Liddell hit a layup off a feed from Mitchell to tie it with 42.3 seconds remaining. La Salle then couldn’t get a good shot off and St. Louis took over with 6.6 seconds left after a shot clock violation.

Mitchell got the ball on a side court inbounds pass and drove the ball straight to the basket, lofting the winning shot high over the hand of La Salle’s Yves Mekongo Mbala.

The loss ends the season for La Salle (18-13), which shot 23-for-63 (36.5 percent) from the floor. Kimmani Barrett was the only other Explorer in double figures with 10 points.

“He just drove to the basket and we got beat off the dribble,” said La Salle coach John Giannini about the winning basket. “We wanted to stay in front of him and make him miss. And it would have worked.”