By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The La Salle Explorers will play a big game on Tuesday night as they host #18 Rhode Island.

The Explorers are 11-16 on the season (5-9 in the Atlantic 10) after a 69-62 win last time out at home against George Mason. This game featured one of the best defensive halves of the season for the Explorers. In the second half, they held George Mason to just six field goals (in 29 attempts) and 17 points, allowing La Salle to rally from a 16-point first half deficit.

Head coach Dr. John Giannini talks about what changed defensively over the final twenty minutes of the game.

“We just did a better job on the ball,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “We were playing too far off certain guys in the first half and letting them be comfortable and giving up some shots that weren’t contested really well. We eliminated that. We guarded the ball a lot tighter.”

 

La Salle also got a fantastic performance from redshirt senior big man Tony Washington who finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds in the victory.

Rhode Island is 21-4 (their 13-1 conference mark leads the A-10) on the season and Giannini says it is no accident that the Rams are having that kind of success.

“Everything begins with players,” he says. “They are older, very physically strong and deep in terms of the roster.”

Giannini adds that Rhode Island excels at both ends of the floor.

“Their shot making and spacing and role definition’s really good on the offensive end,” he says. “They actually play a lot like Villanova in terms of multiple shooters and big guys who screen and play tough and understand their roles. But then defensively, they really guard you tight, they’re really physical, they’re strong, they have good size, they move well.”

These two teams met up in Kingston back on January 3rd with Rhode Island winning 74-62. The Explorers played without leading scorer B.J. Johnson that night because of injury and they turned the ball over 19 times which led to 30 Rhode Island points.

Tuesday night’s game at Gola Arena will tip-off at 7:00pm.