Guard Tyrone Garland scored a game-high 22 points, leading the La Salle Explorers to a 78-59 victory over the Morgan State Bears on Friday night in the opening round of the Paradise Jam at the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Garland led four players in double figures for La Salle (3-2). Guard Tyreek Duren added 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Center Ian Chiles led Morgan State (0-5), posting 14 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard Justin Black had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
La Salle controlled the opening minutes, jumping out to a 10-2 lead on baskets by Duren and Garland over the first 3:22. Morgan State slowly closed the gap over the next seven minutes, staging a 15-4 run to take a 17-15 lead on a 3-pointer by Blake Bozeman with 9:09 remaining in the first period. The Bears led 23-17 with 4:45 to go, but the Explorers responded with a 13-0 run and took a 32-25 lead into the locker room at the break.
La Salle stretched its lead to nine on a couple of occasions early in the second half. Morgan State again started chipping away, cutting the deficit back down to five, but the Explorers fended off each charge, outscoring the Bears 10-3 over a span of two minutes to take a 51-39 lead with 9:11 to play.
Morgan State reduced the deficit to six moments later, but that's when La Salle pulled away, staging a 13-2 to take a 67-48 lead on a jumper by Jarrell Wright with 3:42 to go.