Enrique Carrasco, Editor
The La Salle Explorers faced what might have been their toughest opponent of the season: the seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats. The Explorers came into the game 2-2 in the season, after two heartbreaking overtime losses to Sacred Heart and Delaware. The team came into the Palestra with the intention of winning and proving to their loyal fans that they were real championship contenders. Sadly, the Explorers, led by third year coach Ashley Howard, failed to live up to the hype for the game. The Explorers left the Palestra after an embarrassing 46 to 72 loss.
The Explorers were outscored in both halves of the game, only scoring 17 points in the first half and 29 points in the second half. In comparison, the Wildcats scored 42 points in the first half and 30 points in the second half. This poor scoring performance can be attributed to several factors, particularly the outstanding Villanova defense, which has managed to maintain most of its opponents to under 60 total points. In addition, the poor performance in field goals for the Explorers (the same problem that caused their loss to Sacred Heart during their home opener) led to the Explorers falling behind in points. The Explorers went 14-55 in field goals (25.5 percent completion rate) and 6-21 in three pointers (28.6 percent completion rate).
As a result of this loss, the Explorers are once again on a negative streak, being 2-3 in the season. This loss caused the Explorers to fall to 13th place in the A-10’s, only above George Washington University, who hold a record of 2-6 in the season. This is the opposite result that the Explorers had hoped for after first hiring coach Ashley Howard, who was an assistant coach at Villanova University when the team won the National Championship. As head coach of the Explorers, Howard holds a record of 34-52 (.395-win percentage). Moving forward, Howard has to make drastic adjustments to his game plan if he plans on bettering the position of his team within the conference, and if he hopes of having any shot at a playoff run.
While this loss embarrassed the Explorers, it was not all negative. Three-star first year Khalil Brantley led the team in scoring, going 5-10 in field goals, 3-4 in three pointers, and 4-5 in free throws, coming to a total of 17 points in the game, outscoring every other player on the court. The first-year shows why he is a three-star talent, and if developed properly under Coach Howard, he could become a true threat to other teams once he is an upperclassman.