La Salle (18-6, 8-3 Atlantic 10) was buoyed by a career-high tying 29 points from Tyreek Duren as they outlasted Saint Joseph's (14-10, 5-6 A-10) 76-64 on Saturday afternoon in a Big Five showdown at The Palestra.
The first half action was sluggish, with both teams struggling to hang on to the ball. La Salle had 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of action, five of which were by Steve Zack as Saint Joseph's led 16-12 after a Langston Galloway three-pointer with eight minutes to play in the first half.
The Hawks then began to get sloppy with the basketball as they finished the half with nine turnovers. La Salle took full advantage of the Hawks late-half ball handling issues as they outscored the Hawks 17-8 over the final seven minutes of the opening half to take a 29-24 lead into the locker room.
The struggles for Saint Joseph's continued into the second half as they had occasional defensive breakdowns which gifted the Explorers some very easy looks.
Every time Saint Joseph's made a run, the Explorers would fight back and extend their lead to double digits. The Hawks were never able to get the lead down to less than five points and often trailed by double-digits during the second half.
The Explorers had a clear edge in the backcourt. Whether it was Ramon Galloway or Duren, the Hawks simply had no answers. Saint Joseph's mainly keyed on Galloway, who became a distributor as he dished off 12 assists, with Duren taking full advantage. When the Hawks gave Galloway room to shoot, he made them pay as he added 16 points of his own in a terrific all-around performance.
While the Hawks Langston Galloway showed grit and determination, he only finished with 12 points and wound up fouling out just prior to the final media timeout. Senior guard Carl Jones was a virtual non-factor, scoring only eight points while being responsible for several of the Hawks defensive breakdowns.
Ramon Galloway threw down a monstrous dunk on the break in the final seconds to put the exclamation point on the Explorers victory.
La Salle shot an impressive 62 percent from the field for the game, including an even more impressive 10-of-16 from three-point range. Saint Joseph's shot a solid 53 percent from the field, but in the end the Hawks were no match for the Explorers.
Halil Kanacevic led the Hawks with 16 points off of the bench while Ronald Roberts picked up his 12th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
It was probably not far-fetched to think this Saint Joseph's team wouldn't lose ten games during this entire season. This was a 20-win team last season that returned every player. Instead the Hawks are regressing and are now down to five regular season games to turn their season around.
Signs of apathy from the students and alumni alike have been blossoming. This afternoon the Hawks student section did not prepare a single roll-out, which is a Big Five tradition.
It is certainly now time for each of the players and coaches to take a deep look at themselves and ask whether they are truly giving everything they have in order for Saint Joseph's to have success. There certainly seems to be a disconnect somewhere.
One message is beginning to become clear though, the fans are sick of watching the players make the same mistakes over and over again. If there's no improvement from now until the end of the season, there will need to be serious consideration given to holding the coaching staff, or perhaps even the athletic director, accountable. Saint Joseph's fans will not continue to pay some of the highest prices in the country to watch an inferior product much longer.
The Hawks will have a week to prepare for their tilt against George Washington, with their match-up with the Colonials slated for next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hagan Arena.