WASHINGTON — Perhaps it was because the ice from a recent Washington Capitals game was under the basketball court, but La Salle came out cold in its Atlantic 10 Tournament opening-round game against Massachusetts – really cold.
For the first 20 minutes, the Explorers made just seven of 24 field goal attempts, including 0-for-9 on three-pointers. They only made two baskets that weren’t layups or dunks.
The only things that kept La Salle in the game were that Massachusetts didn’t shoot much better and the Explorers sank 14 of 16 free throws.
The shooting got better for La Salle over the second 20 minutes. Still, it was only appropriate that the Explorers’ season ended on a miss at the buzzer.
Pookie Powell came close on his three-point attempt at the end, but it didn’t fall and La Salle lost 69-67 on Wednesday at the Capital One Center.
It was the 15th miss of the 16 three-pointers the Explorers (13-19) attempted. It rounded out a generally bad shooting night that saw La Salle hit for just 36.9 percent (21-for-57).
With the Explorers needing a basket in the final 14 seconds, Powell (18 points) first missed a jumper with 8 seconds remaining and then the three-pointer at the buzzer.
“We were a shot away,” La Salle coach John Giannini said. “One-for-16 on three-pointers is historically low, our worst of the season.
“Those shots Pookie had were great. He gave great effort to create them, but just by bad luck, they didn’t go in. It was unfortunately typical of our season … we couldn’t get over the hump. We give effort to put ourselves in position to win games but come up a little bit short.”
In his final game for La Salle, fifth-year senior center Tony Washington matched his career high with 20 points and added 12 rebounds. Senior guard B.J. Johnson ended his stellar two-year career at La Salle with 18 points.
Johnson was named to the all-conference second team and the All-Academic team.
“This was an emotional loss,” Giannini said. “Obviously, it was the last loss of the season, but it was an emotional loss for our seniors.”
Senior guard C.J. Anderson scored a season-high 21 to lead Massachusetts (13-19). He made four of the Minutemen’s 10 three-pointers.
The Explorers were able to contain sophomore guard and all-conference second-teamer Luwane Pipkins to 15 points after he had totaled 69 points in their two regular-season meetings.
The 13th-seeded Minutemen advance to play No. 5 seed George Mason on Thursday.