Connie Carr and Rasual Butler shot down hopes for a Penn win last night. It took six minutes, 42 seconds for La Salle to score its first two-pointer. Ironically, before that basket, the Explorers actually led 13-12. La Salle's first 13 points of the game came courtesy of a free throw and four three-pointers -- one from senior guard Donnie Carr and three from sophomore forward Rasual Butler. La Salle's start to its 83-76 win over the Penn men's basketball was truly fitting because it was the timely three-point shooting of Carr and Butler, along with their ability to capitalize from the charity stripe, that won the game for the Explorers (5-1, 1-0 Big 5). In all, La Salle scored 59 of its 83 points from either behind the arc or at the free-throw line, mostly thanks to Carr and Butler, who finished the contest with 25 points apiece. "Our offense has to take the pressure off our defense," La Salle coach Speedy Morris said. "We have to be able to score. We couldn't score 58 points [against Penn] like we did last year." After La Salle took a 15-12 lead on its first two of the game, Carr netted his third trey of the evening on the Explorers' subsequent trip down the floor. Now holding an 18-12 lead, Penn would never be closer than four points from La Salle for the remainder of the game. La Salle only drained four shots from downtown in the second half, but each one seemed to break an oncoming surge of Quakers' momentum. Playing a tough zone defense to start the second half, Penn neutralized the La Salle offense -- which scored 43 first-half points -- on the first possession of the half. The next time down the floor, Carr answered the Penn zone with an NBA-range three-pointer that hit nothing but net. Later on, Carr's final trey gave La Salle its biggest lead of the contest at 66-54. As for the other two second-half threes -- Butler did it. The sophomore's first triple came following a three from Penn junior guard Lamar Plummer. Butler sunk a three from the corner as the shot clock neared zero. Then, the final La Salle three-pointer of the game came following another momentum-building Penn trifecta. Senior guard Matt Langel hit his fifth trey of the game to put the Quakers within six points, but Butler was the next player to score, hitting that second three to give La Salle a 74-65 advantage. "You make shots and then you can't go down to the other end and stop them," Langel said. "They had some answers for our tough shots, which made it a good game." While the Explorers built a lead thanks to their success from behind the arc, finishing the game 10-of-20, it was the free-throw shooting down the stretch that secured La Salle's victory in this Big 5 opener. La Salle shot a jaw-dropping 88 percent from the foul line in the game's final 20 minutes -- going 22-for-25. After junior forward James Jordan missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Explorers hit 14 in a row from the charity stripe in the game's final 10 minutes before Carr missed one with less than 10 seconds left. "Coach has done a good job stressing that [hitting] free-throws down the stretch is the thing that wins games," Carr said. "You've just got to step up to the line with confidence. Everything is contagious. Winning is contagious. Losing is contagious. Defense is contagious, so definitely foul shooting is contagious." Carr sank four of those 14 free-throws, and Butler accounted for six. The free-throws proved to be pivotal because the Quakers refused to be buried in the game's waning minutes. Plummer, Langel and senior guard Michael Jordan all connected from downtown in the last three minutes, but they could never make it a one-possession game. Every time Penn intentionally fouled La Salle to get back in the contest, it became a seemingly automatic two points for the Explorers. "They came out and did a terrific job, especially down the stretch where they are basically flawless at the foul line," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "It's a nice way to finish out a game for them." A great way to finish a game that started in a similar fashion -- with threes and freebies.Comments powered by Disqus
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