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La Salle (18-10) at Fordham (9-17)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 1:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Rose Hill Gym (3,470) -- Bronx, New York. Television: YES. Home Record: La Salle 12-2, Fordham 8-5. Away Record: La Salle 5-7, Fordham 1-12. Neutral Record: La Salle 1-1, Fordham 0-0. Conference Record: La Salle 7-6, Fordham 2-11. Series Record: La Salle leads, 32-12.

GAME NOTES: Coming off a disappointing overtime loss to a nationally-ranked program three nights ago, the La Salle Explorers now turn their attention to the Fordham Rams as the two teams collide in Atlantic 10 Conference action in the Bronx this afternoon.

It wasn't that long ago that the Explorers were rolling along as one of the better teams in the A-10, but now the squad is stuck in the middle of the pack after losing four of its last five outings. On Wednesday night, the team was pitted against 22nd-ranked and cross-town rival Temple and even though La Salle battled back to send the meeting into overtime it still turned into an 80-79 loss just the same. With the defeat the Explorers are now 7-6 in conference play, which has them tied with Dayton for seventh place in the standings.

As for the Rams, a mere two A-10 victories has them tied with Rhode Island for the worst record in the league (2-11) as they try to figure out how to bring an end to a six-game slide. Fordham was also in action on Wednesday night and was beaten soundly by St. Bonaventure at home, 89-63. Since a stunning win over Harvard on January 3, the Rams have just two more victories to their credit.

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Explorers are ahead by a count of 32-12, thanks in part to an 86-61 blowout win last season.

Earl Pettis scored a career-high 33 points, shooting 11-of-21 from the floor, including 5-of-10 behind the three-point line, but it all went for naught as the Explorers still suffered the one-point overtime loss to the Owls at Tom Gola Arena. Sam Mills and Ramon Galloway both tacked on 12 points and Tyreek Duren 10, but beyond that quartet La Salle produced a total of only 12 points as the squad shot 38.6 percent from the floor. Pettis checks in with 15.3 ppg to pace the program and is also responsible for 4.1 rpg, followed by Galloway with 14.6 ppg and his 4.8 rpg which is rather unusual given that he is the most productive three-point shooter on the roster with 59 conversions and 45.7 percent accuracy. Duren, who is playing 35 minutes per game, continues to be one of the team leaders in scoring with his 13.5 ppg and is also first in the assists department as well with better than four per game. As a team, La Salle is hitting three-point shots at a 41.3 percent clip, considerably better than the competition at only 31.8 percent.

Against the Bonnies on Wednesday night, the Rams had trouble establishing a defensive presence as the visitors to Rose Hill Gym connected on 63.0 percent from the field and also outscored the hosts at the free-throw line, 24-10. Coming off the bench for a change, Chris Gaston was credited with a team-best 18 points for Fordham, followed by Devon McMillan who chipped in another 11 points in just 18 minutes in a reserve role as well. The starting five for the Rams combined to shoot just 9-of-35 from the floor, with Bryan Smith missing all 10 of his field goal attempts. Gaston, a starter in all but three of the games in which he has appeared, is posting a team-best 16.6 ppg at the moment and is also the top man on the glass with a shade under 10 boards per contest. Branden Frazier (11.5 ppg) and Smith (10.0 ppg) are also keys figures for an offense that is generating just 62.0 ppg in the final weeks of the season.

Clearly, it is possible for one of the better players on the Rams to have an awful outing, just as Smith showed on Wednesday, but the Explorers will still have to be on top of their game in order to bounce back into the win column.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 78, Fordham 63

02/25 10:37:44 ET