La Salle (21-11) vs. Saint Louis (24-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 9, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Boardwalk Hall (10,500) -- Atlantic City, New Jersey. Television: CBSSN-Regional. Home Record: La Salle 14-2, Saint Louis 15-1. Away Record: La Salle 6-8, Saint Louis 6-5. Neutral Record: La Salle 1-1, Saint Louis 3-0. Conference Record: La Salle 9-7, Saint Louis 12-4. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 8-6.
GAME NOTES: After breaking out as one of the hottest teams in the Atlantic 10 to begin conference play, the La Salle Explorers have cooled off considerably as they prepare for this evening's A-10 Tournament quarterfinal-round matchup with the Saint Louis Billikens at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The seventh seed in the tourney this year, the Explorers started off the conference slate with seven wins in nine chances, but a drought during the month of February brought the team back to reality. Luckily for La Salle, which has never won this event and has a record of just 8-14 in the A-10 Tournament heading in, the squad started off on the right foot on Tuesday night with an 80-72 win over Richmond in the first round.
As for the Billikens, this year's second seed, they have a record of only 3-6 in this event as one of the more recent additions to the A-10 Conference. Outside of a two-point loss at Rhode Island a couple weeks ago, Saint Louis has been one of the strongest teams in the conference coming down the stretch with just one other setback since Jan. 12.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Billikens are ahead by a count of 8-6 and have won all three meetings during postseason play.
The winner of this meeting will be right back on the hardwood tomorrow afternoon taking on the survivor of the Dayton/Xavier contest in the semifinals.
Against the Spiders three nights ago, La Salle shot an even 50 percent from the floor and knocked down 8-of-17 behind the three-point line and 20-of-24 at the charity stripe in order to pull off the eight-point win. At the offensive end of the floor, Ramon Galloway scored 17 points, leading four players in double figures at Tom Gola Arena. Galloway added eight assists and seven rebounds for the Explorers, while Earl Pettis added 15 points, Jerrell Wright 14 and Devon White 13 points off the bench in the triumph. Against conference opponents this season, Pettis led the way for the Explorers with 16.8 ppg, while Galloway dropped in another 13.8 ppg as each of them knocked down 30 three-point shots over 16 games. Tyreek Duren, a 44.2 percent shooting behind the three-point line in his own right, was responsible for 13.4 ppg and all three of the top scorers also managed to combine for 167 assists in order to help keep the offense operating.
One of the top defensive teams in the entire nation, the Billikens easily paced the Atlantic 10 in points allowed with just 56.6 ppg surrendered. Because of that effort Saint Louis also enjoyed the largest scoring margin in the conference at plus-12.4 ppg as no other team was even a plus-8.0 through the regular season. Opponents shot just 40.6 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent behind the three-point line this season, those same programs averaging more than 15 turnovers per game as well. At the offensive end the leader for the Billikens is Brian Conklin with 13.9 ppg, shooting not only 53.9 percent from the floor but also 129-of-163 (.791) at the charity stripe. Kwamain Mitchell checks in with 12.1 ppg and is also first on the unit with 106 assists and 41 thefts. Although he came off the bench in all but one game, Cody Ellis was also a huge performer with 10.8 ppg as he knocked down a team- best 66 three-point shots.
As long as the Billikens are able to control the flow of the game, expect to see Saint Louis move along, leaving the Explorers to wonder what their next move will be.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 64, La Salle 58
03/09 10:33:52 ET