Xavier's Conference Season Begins With Road Loss To La Salle
Jan. 4, 2012
PHILADELPHIA - Despite having four starters in double digits the Xavier men's basketball team started its Atlantic 10 conference season with an 80-70 loss to La Salle on Wednesday night at Tom Gola Arena.
The Musketeers, who fall to 9-5 overall, were led in scoring by freshman Dezmine Wells and senior Tu Holloway who scored 15 points each. Junior Mark Lyons had 13 points and senior Kenny Frease added in 10 points. Frease also had a team-high eight rebounds and Holloway a team-high seven assists.
The Explorers improved to 11-4 with the victory in their conference opener. Earl Pettis had a game-high 23 points in the win for La Salle.
Xavier overcame a double-digit La Salle lead in the second half and cut the score to five points with just over 90 seconds remaining. Lyons' 3-pointer brought the score to 74-69 as the Musketeers rallied from down 18 points in the second half.
The deficit was unfortunately too much for the Musketeers to overcome, despite outscoring the Explorers 40-34 in the second half.
Trailing 46-30 at halftime, the Musketeers started the second period of play holding La Salle to just 1-of-7 in the opening minutes. Xavier scored eight points during that stretch and closed the lead to 11.
It became a 10-point game after a dunk from Jeff Robinson and step back fade away from Holloway. The Explorers went back on the offensive and built a 58-42 lead again.
Xavier wasn't out of the game yet and rallied to cut it back to a manageable 11 points with a 6-0 run with 10 minutes remaining.
Dee Davis kept it at 10 with his high-arching 3-pointer and graduate Andre Walker's offensive putback followed to make it a single-digit lead for La Salle. Davis then again struck cutting further into the lead.
Two of Holloway's 11 free throws and Lyons nothing-but-net trey made it a five-point game with 1:43 left. However, that was as close as Xavier would come as La Salle finished off the game scoring six points in the final minute.
Xavier was better during the second half on both ends of the floor. An improved shooting performance in the half gave Xavier a 40.3 percent mark (25-of-62) from the floor, while hitting 4-of-14 points (28.6 percent) from outside the arc. La Salle finished 26-of-65 (40 percent) shooting while hitting nine of its 26 (34.6 percent) 3-pointers.
The Musketeers started the game by scoring six points in the opening moments. La Salle - a team that averages over 20 long range shots per game - then converted three straight to overtake the lead. It was part of a 16-4 run for the Explorers.
Wells led Xavier with seven points at the break, while Lyons and Frease each had six points. In the half the Musketeers were 11-of-31 (35.5 percent) from the floor and made one of five 3-point attempts. La Salle converted 17-of-41 (41.5 percent) shooting and made seven of its 18 deep-range shots.
Xavier remains on the east coast as it prepares for Saturday's match up with Fordham. That game will begin at Noon from Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx, N.Y. and can be seen on Fox Sports Ohio.