PHILADELPHIA - Brittany Wilson scored 31 points, her best offensive output in an Explorer uniform, and La Salle gutted out a 68-62 win over Fordham in a midday contest at a rocking Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday.
The home-court advantage was tremendous on Wednesday afternoon, as the Explorers hosted their annual Kids' Day game with hundreds of local elementary school students in attendance.
Wilson scored 22 of her 31 points in the second half, fueling an Explorer rally from an 11-point deficit. She shot 14-of-19 and added a game-high seven assists along with three steals, three boards and a block.
Nadia Duncan, who scored La Salle's first seven points of the game, finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Alexis Scott chipped in nine. Ruvanna Campbell led all rebounders with eight. Four Rams reached double figures, led by Arielle Collins' 14. Becky Peters added 13, while Abigail Corning and Emily Tapio netted 11 apiece.
The win marks the fifth straight for the Explorers (8-9, 2-0 Atlantic 10), the first five-game win streak since the 2006-07 squad won seven straight (Nov. 10 - Dec. 2, 2006). The Explorers also shot a season-best 54.0 percent on 27-of-50 shooting, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Fordham (9-8, 0-2 Atlantic 10) shot 45.3 percent overall. After hitting 56.0 percent in the first half, the Explorer defense clamped down and limited the Rams to just 35.7 percent (10-for-28) after the break. They also shot just 26.7 percent from three (8-for-30).
Fordham drew first blood when Corning sank a three, but the two squads went back and forth over the first nine minutes of the game. With La Salle leading 15-14, Tapio hit a jumper at the 10:46 mark to spark an 8-0 Ram run to put the score at 22-15.
Back-to-back threes from Wilson and Scott pulled the Explorers within one at 22-21. Collins nailed another trey for the visitors and the teams traded baskets to finish out the half with Fordham leading 35-30.
The Rams came out of the half to score the first six points and build a 41-30 lead, but Wilson sparked an 18-6 run with a jumper at 17:53. She capped off the run with a made jumper and converted the and-one to give the Explorers their first lead, 48-47, since midway through the first half. That 18-6 run saw Wilson score 16 straight La Salle points spanning 15:11 to 10:11.
The teams traded leads four times after that. With Fordham up 57-54 with 7:49 remaining, Michea Bryant nailed the first of her two triples to spark a deciding 14-2 Explorer run and give the hosts a nine-point cushion, their largest lead of the game. Tapio hit a jumper and a foul shot with 31 seconds remaining for the final 68-62 score.
The Explorers dished out 16 assists to 14 turnovers, while forcing the Rams into 17 miscues which yielded 21 La Salle points. The Explorers also helped themselves at the free throw line, sinking the first eight straight and missing just two, which came in the final seconds after the game was decided.
La Salle returns to action on Saturday, looking for a 3-0 start in Atlantic 10 play when the Explorers host Xavier at 1 p.m. at Tom Gola Arena.