PHILADELPHIA– It’s been about a month since first-year La Salle head coach Ashley Howard embarked on his maiden voyage as a head coach and nine games later, he’s still in search of his first win.
The Explorers fell to the Bucknell Bison by a final score of 92-79 at Tom Gola Arena on Tuesday night.
“Another game for us where we just didn’t play 40 minutes of our type of basketball where we were connected on both ends of the floor.” Howard said.
After the Explorers gave defending national champions Villanova a tough test on Saturday at the Palestra, they came out looking flat on Tuesday. Missed offensive opportunities, defensive miscommunications, it was a game to forget for the Explorers.
The most notable miscommunication for the Explorers was after they cut their 20 point deficit to nine in the second half, an inbound play where a Bucknell player launched a football pass to Bucknell senior forward Nate Sestina on the other side of half-court for an easy slam. There were no Explorers on that half of the floor.
“I want our guys to earn everything they get and today wasn’t a game that I thought that we earned the win,” Howard said. “I felt like Bucknell outplayed us on both sides.”
“I just want to see us get better with all of the details,” Howard said. “In particular our communication on the defensive end and our focus defensively on our gameplan.”
If there was a bright spot for La Salle in this game, it was the emergence of their freshmen and sophomores.
Freshman guard and former Cheltenham star Jack Clark scored a team-high 21 points in only his second collegiate game of his career. Clark sat out the beginning of the season with a knee injury and still wears a brace.
As the season was about to begin, it looked as if Clark was going to take a redshirt year to heal up, but as the year went on, changes were made and in their game against Villanova on Saturday, Clark made his collegiate debut.
“Initially we talked about redshirting him and Jack said he wanted to play and I thought that it would be good for him to get the opportunity to play this year as opposed to sitting out two whole years,” Howard said. “Get some valuable in game experience playing, making mistakes, learning from them and he, myself, and his family made the decision that it would be best for him to get an opportunity to play this year, he looks like he’s ready to play to me.”
Another freshman that made an impact on Tuesday was forward and former St. Joe’s Prep big man Ed Croswell, who had to play extended minutes due to fellow freshman big-man Jared Kimbrough sitting out due to a foot injury. Croswell recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and hauling in 19 rebounds.
The two true sophomores stepped up on Tuesday night as well as center Miles Brookins dropped 19 points and so did guard Jamir Moultire.
The loss dropped La Salle to 0-9 and one of five teams (Alabama A&M, Coppin State, Mount St. Mary’s and Monmouth) to have yet record a win this season.
Up next for La Salle is another home game on Saturday at 4:00 against Big 5 foe Penn (7-2).
The Quakers are coming off a dominant win against Miami (FL) where they dismantled the Hurricanes 89-75 on Tuesday night at the Palestra. That is the same Miami team that throttled La Salle by 36 two weeks ago, 85-49.
Should the Explorers lose that one as well, their next shot at their first win is against fellow winless team Alabama A&M in Atlantic City on December 21. But for now, the focus is on the Quakers.
“Penn is a great team,” Howard said. “Coach Donahue has done a great job rebuilding that program, they’re an NCAA Tournament team, championship-caliber opponent, a team that is really going to test our attention to detail in terms of the scouting report, a good opportunity for us to get better against a quality opponent,”
“Our guys are going to comeback to practice tomorrow and prepare for the Quakers.”