LaSalle defeats Charlotte 68-61

January 14, 2009 8:57:26 PM PST
LaSalle rebounded from a loss in its Atlantic 10 opener with a rebounding showcase on Wednesday. Ruben Guillandeaux scored 14 points and LaSalle won 68-61, grabbing 50 rebounds to the 49ers' 25 and sending Charlotte to its fourth straight loss and second in conference play.

LaSalle (9-6, 1-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) picked up 10 points and 11 rebounds from reserve forward Terrell Williams and 12 points from Kimmani Barrett. Yves Mekongo Mbala and Rodney Green added 11 each for LaSalle. A game after Temple held a 10-rebound edge on the Explorers, LaSalle responded with a 27-5 edge in second-chance points.

"We pride ourselves in rebounding, and were extremely pleased to get a double-double from Williams," LaSalle coach John Giannini said. "We didn't want to put too much emphasis on any one phase, and were more worried about doing what we do best. We concentrated on what we do, rather than focus on the press break, how to stop (Lamont Mack), or what to do against their zone."

Mack finished with 23 points and Charlie Coley had 11 for Charlotte (5-10, 0-2), which has lost two players to season-ending injuries. It was the first loss in five games against LaSalle since Charlotte joined the Atlantic 10.

"Obviously, the second and third shots hurt us tonight," said Mack, who shot 6-for-12 for Charlotte, which shot 29.6 percent in the first half. "We need to continue to work hard and tighten up the loose screws. We need to push the ball in transition."

It wasn't how many rebounds Charlotte tallied, but rather when it tallied them. The 49ers picked up key second-half rebounds to take a brief lead.

Charlotte ripped off a 14-2 run to take a 45-43 lead on Rashad Coleman's baseline drive with 10:27 left. Outrebounded 40-15 when they trailed 41-31, the 49ers scored on three straight possessions, picking up both offensive and defensive rebounds on five straight misses.

Barrett, playing the final two minutes with four fouls, answered with a banked-in 3-pointer, and LaSalle finished on an 18-10 run. Guillandeaux's final 3-pointer and free throws in the final minute ended Charlotte's final run and put LaSalle up 60-51 with 33 seconds left.

Juniors Barrett, Green, Guillandeaux and Vernon Goodridge played key roles in Charlotte's victory.

"That's the difference in freshmen versus juniors," Giannini said. "I'm thrilled for them. The run they made was a test psychologically, and that would have been panic time for a team with less maturity."

LaSalle has won four of five, its lone loss to reigning conference champion Temple at home on Sunday.