Ramon Galloway scored 31 points Saturday as the Explorers beat No. 19 Virginia Commonwealth 69-61 at the Siegel Center. La Salle (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic 10) was coming off a 54-53 victory over No. 9 Butler on Wednesday. The Explorers beat ranked foes in consecutive games for the first time since the 1952 National Invitation Tournament, which they won. "I know for me and for my teammates and coach (John Giannini), it's a huge step," Galloway said. "We've got to understand we've got to play at this level every time." While the week was a rare accomplishment, Giannini insists he and his team aren't surprised at their success. "I can't even act surprised," Giannini said. "I'm not a good actor. If you think we're surprised, you're nuts. You know nothing about our guys or our program if you think we're surprised by winning against a good team." VCU (16-5, 4-2) lost its second game in a row after winning 13 straight. VCU fell 86-74 at Richmond on Thursday night. The Rams lost at home for just the second time this season. "I think our guys did a really nice job of trying to turn the page, not dwelling on that (Richmond) game, putting everything they had into this game," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "But we didn't quite have that extra burst that we've had other games, and I don't know if there is a whole lot we can do about that." VCU cut the lead to 56-55 with 2:50 to go, but Galloway hit two free throws on La Salle's next possession to push the lead back to three. Tyreek Duren hit a driving layup with 1:49 left to put the Explorers up 60-55 and give them some breathing room down the stretch. The Explorers made nine of 10 free throws from there to seal the win. Galloway's point total was a career high. He made nine of 18 shots from the floor and nine of 10 from the free-throw line. Galloway hit six free throws in the final 55.7 seconds. "We knew VCU was very aggressive," Galloway said. "We figured if they were going to get under us, we could kind of drive. Coach (Giannini) was telling us if we just be strong and don't turn the ball over, we were going to give ourselves a chance to win the game." Duren added 16 points for La Salle, which shot 47 percent (24-for-51) from the floor while just turning the ball over 14 times against VCU's pressure defense. La Salle used a basic offensive approach. Giannini said his team stopped trying to run set plays against VCU's "havoc" defense. Instead, the Explorers just spread the floor and let their guards go one-on-one. "We knew running plays would be hard against them because it's hard to run a play when someone is draped on the passer," Giannini said. The Rams knew that sort of approach was coming but did not do enough to stop it. "It was a pretty simple preparation," Smart said. "It's one thing to know it's coming. It's another to stop it." The Rams shot just 38.3 percent (23-for-60). Juvonte Reddic had 22 points and 10 rebounds, playing what Smart described as one of his best games of the season. VCU's leading scorer, Treveon Graham, had 13 points but shot just 4-for-17 from the field. Troy Daniels had 11, making three of his team's four 3-point baskets for the game. The Rams attempted 16 3-pointers. The Rams erased a nine-point halftime deficit in 3:52 and eventually scored the first 17 points of the second half. Reddic hit a jumper with 14:31 left to cap off the run and make the score 42-34. La Salle responded with a 22-7 run over the next 8:38. Galloway had 12 points in that span. He hit a 3-pointer with 5:53 to play to end the run and put the Explorers ahead 56-49. "It takes a lot of poise and confidence and guts to withstand that against such a great team in such an emotional atmosphere," Giannini said. La Salle led 34-25 after a first half of runs from both teams. The nine-point halftime deficit was VCU's largest of the season. The Explorers ended the half on a 15-2 run over the final 7:57. Galloway had nine points in the spurt and led La Salle with 11 points at the break. That came after VCU went on a 12-2 run over a span of 3:32 to take a 23-19 lead. Reddic had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half, but he did not score in the final 9:33 before the break. "The difference between who was making a run when is when they forced turnovers," Giannini said. "When they forced turnovers, they're as good as anyone anywhere." NOTES: This was the fourth all-time meeting between the schools and the first since the 2004-05 season. VCU leads the series 3-1. ... VCU extended its consecutive sellout streak to 30 games, the fifth-longest active streak in the country. ... La Salle faced ranked teams in back-to-back games for the first time since the Explorers played No. 4 Villanova and No. 1 Massachusetts in February 1996.
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