North Philadelphia, PA – Heading into the second half down 39-34, La Salle looked like it was well on its way to its fourth straight loss. But behind 6-7 junior BJ Johnson’s 21 second half points, the Explorers rallied past UMass 88-78 to notch their sixth conference win. In front of several NBA scouts, the rail-thin Syracuse transfer shot 4-of-5 from deep and 10-of-10 from the line, and added a game high 11 boards. But Johnson often forced the issue too much, taking several contested mid-range jumpers early in the clock and putting his head down and driving to the rim where a soft whistle bailed him out throughout the night. Johnson is an explosive leaper with length and a smooth jumper but needs to improve his decision making.
Decision making has been an issue for Jordan Price this season (19 turnovers in last five games), but Wednesday night the 6-5 senior guard took the helm and navigated a sea of Minutemen defenders en route to 21 points and a team high five assists. Price, a large guard at 220 pounds, can bully his way past defenders who are forced close out on his respectable outside jumper.
This was La Salle’s first win without starting guard Pookie Powell. “We really needed that bad…. It’s a huge adjustment (without Powell). He’s an all-league guy,” said La Salle Head Coach Dr. John Giannini. With Powell out indefinitely, the Explorers are going to need more nights like these from Johnson and Price.
For UMass, the stars on the night were a slender 6-5 freshman guard Dejon Jarreau, and hefty 6-11, 320-pound sophomore Rashaan Holloway. Jarreau, a top 100 recruit, has a quick first step and plays with swagger and toughness. The New Orleans native finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Holloway is a tough matchup in the paint. With good feet and soft hands, he is able to finish around the rim with ease. “He’s extremely skilled…When he gets it down low it’s a problem,” said Giannini.
UMass drops to 12-11 on the year and 2-8 in conference. The Minutemen face Rhode Island at home next Tuesday. With the win, La Salle improves to 12-8 on the season and 6-3 in conference ahead of Sunday’s matchup at George Mason.
This article was written by Robert Smuckler, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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