PHILADELPHIA (AP) - John Giannini figured the only way his La Salle Explorers could topple a ranked opponent was by turning back the clock.
Playing an offense inspired by an era of basketball long-since filed away, the Explorers held the ball on most possessions until the shot clock nearly expired. It worked like a charm.
The end result was a 61-57 win for La Salle over No. 25 ranked Dayton in an Atlantic 10 matchup Saturday.
“We did it the first three games of the year and then got away from it,” Giannini said of his slow-down offense. “Looking back on it, if you are doing something well and you are 4-1, then it’s just how we should play with this particular team.”
Jordan Price had 17 points and Amar Stukes added 12 for the Explorers (5-8, 1-2).
While the slow-down was employed most of the game, La Salle needed to ramp it up in the final eight minutes and did, overcoming a seven-point deficit to pull out the victory.
Johnny Shuler hit a 3-pointer to put the Explorers ahead for good and then made all four free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory. He finished with 11 points.
Price was the spark offensively - and while Dayton (12-3, 2-1) expected him to be the go-to guy for La Salle, he also chipped in with eight rebounds and six assists.
“He can be even better, that’s how good he is,” Giannini said of his top scorer. “But those stats are big. That’s how you win games.”
This slow down tactic seemed to frustrate Dayton, which couldn’t get its up-tempo and crisp-passing offense in rhythm, and allowed the Explorers, who lost their previous two games this season against ranked opponents by a combined 75 points, to stay in the game.
“I don’t know if you can ever get accustomed to a team holding the ball for 40 minutes and running an offense with 10 seconds on the clock,” said Dayton coach Archie Miller. “Each basket they made toward the end of the shot clock felt like one million points because you’re just standing around. Give them credit - they wanted to slow us down and keep us out of transition and they did a nice job.”
It was also a savvy move by Giannini from an energy conservation standpoint as he only played six players the entire game, negating the strength of Dayton’s depth and allowing his players to catch their breath on most offensive possessions.
“We definitely have a lot more energy on defense,” Stukes said. “We were able to keep the ball in front of us, lock them down and get some good stops toward the end. The rest we are able to get on offense really helped us out this game.”
Charles Cooke, in a homecoming of sorts after growing up in nearby Trenton, New Jersey, led the Flyers in scoring with 21 points - his sixth consecutive game in double figures.
Normally a deep offensive team, Dayton wasn’t able to get much from anyone other than Cooke as Dyshawn Pierre was second on the team in scoring with 12 points and no one else had more than eight points - a far cry from their last three games where the Flyers had 13 players post double digit scoring totals combined.
The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for La Salle, who had not lost eight straight since 2009-10. Dayton also had their five-game winning streak come to an end.
Dayton: Tom Gola arena is a house of horrors for Dayton. Despite having won 18 of 23 against La Salle overall, they have now dropped five of the last seven on the Explorers home floor, including three straight.
La Salle: Price, who entered the game ranked 12th in the nation in scoring, reached 1,000 points in his collegiate career with a 3-pointer from the corner late in the second half that pulled the Explorers within three points. He scored 145 points at Auburn before transferring to La Salle after one season with the Tigers.
Kendall Pollard missed his second straight game for Dayton with a right Achilles injury. Pollard, the second-leading scorer on the Flyers (11.5 ppg), travelled with the team and was on the sideline in a walking boot. Miller said he’s making progress in recovery, but there’s no timetable for him to return to practice. Pierre again started in his place.
Dayton: hosts Davidson Tuesday.
La Salle: visits Richmond Wednesday.
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