La Salle is one team that opponents in next month’s Atlantic 10 basketball tournament won’t relish facing. That’s because the Explorers, who began the season 0-10, are clearly rounding into form.
La Salle continued its stellar recent play Tuesday with an 83-69 win over St. Joseph’s at Tom Gola Arena, earning a fourth consecutive win in a three-point fest.
The Explorers shot 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) from distance while St. Joseph’s was 14-for-26 (53.8 percent)
In addition to being an A-10 matchup, it also was the Big 5 game between the teams, who will also meet March 2 at St. Joseph’s.
La Salle is now 7-14 and 5-4 in the A-10. The Explorers finished 1-3 in the Big 5. St. Joseph’s fell to 10-13, 3-7 and 0-4 in the Big 5.
"I think we are at a point of the season that all of our guys are playing with unbelievable confidence,” said redshirt junior guard Traci Carter, who scored a career-high 18 points and hit all four three-point attempts. “We are in the gym every day just getting better.”
Carter, a transfer from Marquette, added six assists and four rebounds.
Junior guard Saul Phiri scored 17 points, sophomore guard David Beatty, an Imhotep graduate and transfer from South Carolina, scored 15 points, and senior Pookie Powell added 14.
For Beatty, it was his career high in an Explorers uniform and one off his all-time best of 16 accomplished last year for South Carolina.
St. Joseph’s 6-7 redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Edwards scored a career-high 22 points, hitting all six of his three-point attempts. This came after he scored a career-high 14 in Saturday’s 64-62 win over UMass.
Charlie Brown added 19 points for the Hawks.
While the Hawks shot well from three-point range, they didn’t do enough on the other aspects of the game, including getting to the foul line, where they had just five attempts.
“We shot 12-for-33 on twos, 36 percent, [and didn’t finish] stuff at the rim,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “They took the fight to us and we tried to fight back and never got a big stop in the second half.”
The Explorers took command in the first half but saw a 12-point lead dwindle to 34-33 on a three-pointer by Edwards with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left. La Salle then went on a 5-0 run to end the half with a 39-33 lead.
The Explorers increased their advantage to 13 points early in the second half and the Hawks were never able to cut it to fewer than seven points.
“We had a difficult stretch early in the season and nobody held their head, nobody felt bad for themselves,” La Salle first-year coach Ashley Howard said. “They kept believing in our coaching staff, what we were trying to get them to buy into and now it is starting to pay off.”