By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been rough sledding as of late for the La Salle Explorers.  They have dropped three straight games, the most recent coming on Saturday, a 59-51 loss to St. Louis at Gola Arena.   That defeat snapped a 14-game home winning streak for La Salle.

Explorers head coach Dr. John Giannini talks about what has been ailing his squad as of late.

“The last two games we’ve really struggled offensively.  We’ve had more turnovers, we’ve taken some more bad shots.  We’ve actually played very well defensively against Richmond and St. Louis.  But offensively, we really have done some things that we just don’t like to do in terms of forcing things, turning the ball over, so we’ve really focused on that this week.”

Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon interview with Dr. John Giannini:

Next up for the Explorers, a visit to Amherst on Saturday to take on UMass.  The Minutemen are playing excellent basketball this season as they sit at 18-7 and they are a perfect 12-0 at the Mullins Center.  Giannini says when you talk about UMass, the conversation has to start with sophomore point guard Chaz Williams.

“Absolutely. Chaz Williams is one of those point guards who is so valuable because those kind of players can make something out of nothing.  They can just beat their man off the dribble and all of a sudden they have a five-on-four advantage and they can find open people and people are left unguarded and allowed to crash to the boards.   Whenever you have a point guard that can create that kind of problem for the opponent, it’s a great plus for you.”

Williams leads the Minutemen in scoring at 15.6 points a game.  Last time out against St. Joe’s on Saturday at Hagan Arena, Williams was held to just 11 points, but he also had 10 assists in a 73-62 defeat.

Even with their recent struggles, the Explorers are still 17-9 this season and 6-5 in the Atlantic 10.  That league mark has them three games behind first-place Temple.

La Salle and UMass will tip-off at 6:00pm on Saturday night.

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