The “Southwest Philly floater” sends La Salle to the Sweet 16.
Tyrone Garland’s shot (and yes, he did name it on TV following the game) with 2.5 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in the Explorers’ 76-74 victory over West Region 12-seed Ole Miss, punching their ticket to Los Angeles where they’ll take on 9-seed Wichita State Thursday night.
Senior Ramon Galloway scored 24 points, Tyreek Duren 19 and Garland 17 to lead the way for La Salle (24-9), which entered the First Four in Dayton having not won an NCAA tournament game since 1990.
Three wins later and this group of Explorers has done something that Lionel Simmons, Doug Overton and the rest of that 1990 team was unable to accomplish. And La Salle, which returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955, did so despite a lack of front court depth against an Ole Miss team that features Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner inside.
The Rebels (27-9) out-rebounded La Salle 40-30 on the night, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and scoring 20 second-chance points. But they were unable to shake the Explorers, as La Salle shot 49.1% and outscored Ole Miss 27-12 from beyond the arc.
That statistic, along with Ole Miss shoot a putrid 10-of-21 from the foul line, essentially set the stage for Garland’s heroics. Ole Miss shot 4-of-19 from three with Marshall Henderson accounting for all four makes (and 15 attempts). Henderson finished the game with 21 points and Holloway added 14 points and 13 rebounds, but the eccentric shooting guard wasn’t on the floor for the game’s final play.
Subbing Henderson out for defensive reasons, Ole Miss did not call its final timeout following Garland’s floater and that’s a decision quite a few will question in the days to come. But with a school-record 27 victories, it’s difficult to say that this season was anything but a success for Andy Kennedy’s program.
But the story is La Salle, a team that nudged its way into the NCAA tournament field and wasn’t expected to hang around too long given the late-season injury suffered by forward Steve Zack. But with their guard play and tough forward Jerrell Wright the Explorers have won three straight, and they’ll be playing for a spot in the Elite 8 next week.