Sports Commentary: Late missed dunk costs the Explorers win over Rhode Island

Commentary, Sports

Enrique Carrasco, Editor

On Jan. 28, 2023, the La Salle Explorers (7-12, 2-5) faced off against the Rhode Island Rams (7-13, 4-4) on the road for the second and last game against Rhode Island of the season. The two teams previously faced off on Jan. 7, 2023, where the Explorers won 77-75 in overtime. The Explorers, however, failed to repeat the same outcome and, after blowing a 40-29 halftime lead, eventually failed to close the game. 

The Explorers were off to a hot start at the beginning of the game, where they took an early 8-2 lead over the Rams, with the help of three-pointers coming from Andres Marrero and Sophomore guard Khalil Brantley. The Explorers and the Rams continued to trade blows with one another, culminating in a 15-13 lead for the Rams with 11 minutes left in the first half. The Explorers, however, had not played their strongest hand yet, and after subbing in Senior Josh Nickleberrry, went on an 8-0 run. The Explorers continued their offensive strides and pushed their lead to 35-25 with 3 minutes left in the first half. After a steal and layup from Brantley, and an offensive rebound from Daeshon Shepherd, who proceeded to kick the ball out to Brantley, the Explorers were able to take a 40-25 lead. The Explorers went into the locker room leading 40-29. 

The second half is where the game fell apart for the Explorers, as it seemed like their performance in the first half managed to overinflate their egos.  The Explorers were able to extend their lead to 14 points three separate times. This, however, was not enough to seal the game away for the Explorers. In the game’s last four minutes, the Explorers failed to score any points for three minutes straight while also failing to make any defensive stops against the Rams. At one point during this drought, Nickleberry was able to get a takeaway, running away with the ball. Nickleberry, however, failed to score the wide-open basket and gave a defensive rebound for the Rams, who were able to convert the rebound into points, bringing them to 64-64. The Rams maintained this momentum and finished the game with 72 points while only allowing 70 points. The following graph, provided by ESPN, showcases the probability of the Explorers winning the game. 

As one can see, the Explorers were heavy favorites to win at various points throughout the game. The Explorers, however, once again failed to perform. A lack of discipline both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball led to the Explorers having 13 separate turnovers throughout the game. In addition, there is no excuse for a D1 Basketball player, much less a Senior, not to be able to finish a dunk. Nickleberry’s late dunk miss would’ve given the Explorers the two points necessary to force overtime. The fact that he leads the team in points speaks volumes about the ineptness of this team on offense. This only shows the irreversible damage that Ashley Howard’s failure during his tenure as head coach has caused La Salle. His inability to properly recruit any worthwhile talent, coupled with an irresponsible and ineffective athletic department (Brian Baptiste has been detrimental to La Salle sports) has created a ripple effect that still affects the Basketball team. 

Josh BRICKelberry

The Explorers now only have ten games left in the season, all of which are in-conference, to make any form of a postseason run, something I consider impossible for this team. I do not believe La Salle has the required talent or necessary aid from the school to make any form of sound in the postseason. Once again, the basketball team helps prove the foolishness and dullness of the La Salle Athletic Department and, most importantly, its director.  

Next up, the Explorers will face off against George Washington University for National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

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