La Salle and Rhode Island Advance,Takeaways From The First Round of The A-10 Championship
Game One: La Salle 63 St Joseph 56
Jack Clark had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Clifton Moore added 19 points and 7 rebounds to lead 12th-seed La Salle over 13th-seed Saint Joseph’s 63-56 in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship. For St Joseph's, Charles Coleman paced the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Obinna added 14 points and 14 rebounds. Jordan Hall had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
La Salle moves on to the Second Round to battle fifth-seeded Saint Louis on Thursday afternoon.
Battle Up Front: had a lot to do with who walked off the floor victorious. It appeared that St Joseph's game plan was simple....get the ball inside to their bigs 6'10 Ejike Obinna and 7'0 reserve Charles Coleman. Each took turns punishing La Salle inside and out with Obinna
posting 14 points and a game high 14 rebounds and Coleman, who came in averaging 2.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, finishing with 18 points (7-9 FG, 4-5 3FG) and11 rebounds. Coleman was the only reserve to score for the Hawks. Their impact was most certainly felt, however, the Explorers front court impact hit a little harder. 6'10 senior Clifton Moore got it done on both ends, finishing with 19 points (7-15 FG/2-5 3FG),7 rebounds and a game high 4 blocks while La Salle's 6'8 swiss army knife wing Jack Clark did it ALL, adding 20 points (9-20 FG), pulling down a team high 13 rebounds while handing out 3 assists to propel the Explorers. Clarks three with 1:09 left all but sealed a win for La Salle. The Explorers front court had the edge scoring wise 39-32 and ironically, that ended up being the margin of victory when it was all said and done.
Game Two: Rhode Island 79 Duquesne 77
Rams forward Antwan Walker posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds and point guard Jeremy Sheppard added 15 points and 6 assists to help Rhode Island hold on against Duquesne 79-77 in the First Round of the Atlantic 10 Championship. Guard Ishmael Leggett finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds, while Makhel and Makhi Mitchell combined for 20 points and 13 rebounds. Duquesne freshman point guard Primo Spears was unstoppable, scoring a game high 30-points while also grabbing six boards and dishing out 5 assists. Kevin Easley Jr. scored a career-high 20 points and had seven rebounds and Jackie Johnson III added 13 points.
Rhode Island will face Richmond Thursday at 8:30pm in the 2nd round of the A10 Championship
Antwan Walker: was the constant throughout the game that Rams head coach David Cox could depend on. Walker was consistent with scoring the ball and crashing the boards. Walker posted 8 points and 6 rebounds in the first half, and 9 points and 5 rebounds in the second half, which included clutch free throws with 59 seconds left to put the Rams up 74-68. Walker was efficient shooting the ball (6-8 FG/ 3-3 3FG) and added two blocks to the equation to help Rhode Island advance. It's the type of production the Rams will need from him if they want to continue to advance.
Primo Spears: was SPECIAL. I mean absolutely special....especially being a freshman, competing in his first conference tournament game in an NBA arena. Spears was unstoppable, posting a game high 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals on 12-25 shooting from field. Spears received a lot of oohhs and aahhs from the crowd with his scoring display off the bounce. Quite a few Rhode Island defenders tried their luck at defending him and each time he proved he wasn't going to be stopped by any one defender. He put the Dukes on his back and did his best to will them to a win. Cox threw doubles at Spears to take the ball out of his hands in the second half, which helped slow him down just enough for the Rams to pull away late. All in all, it was the type performance that puts the rest of the league on notice that it's potentially another star on the rise in the A10 conference.
Turnovers: almost became the very reason why Rhode Island wouldn't have advanced to the second round. Rhode Island turned the ball over 19 times and Duquesne scored 21 points off those turnovers. The Rams had 11 turnovers in the first half alone. If they turn the ball over in their second round match-up with Richmond, it'll be a long night. Richmond thrives off of turning opponents over. The Spiders are second in the A-10 in steals averaging 7.8 steals per game and have the NCAA All Time steals leader in Jacob Gilyard who comes in with 450 career steals (and counting) and is first in the A10 in steals, swiping three a game. Rhode Island MUST take better care of the ball if they want to upset Richmond and continue to advance.