Boys Bounce Bonnies, Sweep The Minutemen Aside: La Salle Men’s Basketball Week In Review 2/14/23


Nicholas Signoretta, Editor

Hassan Drame gets set to rip a ball from beyond the arc. (courtesy of shotbyscornely)

The last time the La Salle University men’s basketball team lost a game, Herbert Hoover was still holding the keys to the Oval Office.  Luckily for me, the La Salle Collegian does not employ a single fact-checker, so no one can disprove this statement, but a minor logistical error should not take away from the work Fran Dunphy and the boys are putting in on the hardwood these past two weeks (Dunphy might have been alive during the Hoover administration, don’t fact check that one either).  After dropping five contests in a row in the month of January, the Explorers have bounced back, risen from the dead (in accordance with the scriptures), and rolled off four straight victories to find themselves sitting nice and pretty in the middle of their conference standings with a little under a month of regular season basketball to play.  We shall now dive into the efforts Olney’s finest put out this past week.

La Salle’s journey to stability in mediocrity started with a dreaded trip to Olean, New York, to face the Saint Bonaventure Bonnies (13-12, 7-4) in the Reilly Center on Wednesday, Feb 8th.  The Explorers have not won a game at the Bonnies since 2015, and the home team was bringing their own three-game win streak into the contest.  None of that fazed La Salle, as the Explorers were cooking in the 1st Half.  Josh Nickelberry and Andrés Marrero contributed four and two long balls respectively in the early going to spark a 26-10 La Salle run that helped the Explorers build a 44-35 lead going into intermission.  The 2nd Half would feature a close knife fight, with the score staying locked at 67-66 in favor of the Explorers for over four of the final five minutes.  Some timely points from Mamadou Doucoure mixed with some clutch free throw shooting helped La Salle put the game away 76-70 and leave frigid, hellish, western New York with a big win in hand.  Nickelberry’s 18 points off the bench paired well with Khalil Brantley’s 16 to set the Explorers up for a big game a few days later.

The final from Saint Bonaventure’s Reilly Center. (courtesy of lasallembb)

The second chore La Salle had to take care of this past week was cleaning up the house as they had a Saturday, Feb 11th, date at home against the UMass Minutemen (13-12, 4-9).  The Explorers had already taken care of the Minutemen earlier this season in Amherst by the score of 78-77, so this past Saturday’s preferred cleaning tool would have been the broom, a necessary item for sweeping.  The game was hotly contested in the 1st Half with an intermission score of 35-33, meaning La Salle would have to turn it on in the 2nd Half.  Spoiler: they did.  Nickelberry turned on the oven and began baking the UMass defense.  He finished with 21 points on seven deep balls and was one of five Explorers in the double-figures.  Those high-powered efforts led to La Salle closing out the contest 86-72 in front of a stellar home crowd.  As a big man, I have to shout out Rokas Jocius, who put in 12 points and 4 blocks.

The final from Tom Gola Arena. (courtesy of lasallembb)

With their win streak now at four, La Salle sits at 12-13 with a 6-6 mark in conference play.  There is a chance a couple more wins could seal the Explorers a bye-week come the A-10 Tournament in March, so every win is going to really matter from here on out.  La Salle’s upcoming contests are against the Richmond Spiders (13-13, 6-7) on Wednesday, Feb 15th, at Tom Gola Arena and on Saturday, Feb 18th, at the George Mason Patriots (14-12, 6-7).  The Spiders game is at 7PM EST, while the Patriots game is at 4PM EST.  Both games will be streamed on ESPN+. Next week, I will hopefully return to report on a six-game win streak.

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