La Salle upends No. 9 Bulter on last-second shot

Josh Verlin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- It had been so long since La Salle beat a top-10 team, not a soul in the student section was alive to witness that win.
For the first time in more than 30 years, the Explorers upset a top-10 team, beating No. 9 Butler 54-53 thanks to an impressive second-half defensive effort and a last-second bucket by senior Ramon Galloway.
Butler center Andrew Smith's layup with 10 seconds remaining put the Bulldogs up by one, and it looked like a back-and-forth final few minutes would end with Butler's 14th consecutive victory.
Instead, Galloway took the inbounds pass near the left sideline, drove up the court and, after hesitating for a second, went hard to the hoop with his left hand -- and the ball dropped through with two seconds remaining.
"It's the greatest feeling ever," said Galloway, who finished with just six points -- though those final two are easily the biggest of his career. "This is one of the greatest wins ever in my life, for me. I know it is for my teammates too."
"I'm not overly surprised. In fact, I'm not surprised at all," La Salle coach John Giannini said.
He might have been the only one who wasn't shocked.
Still, Giannini wasn't ignoring the magnitude of the win.
"It's certainly special beating a team and a program that we respect and admire the way we do Butler," he added. "We beat a team that is objectively a great team. It's no one's opinion -- they've beaten great teams and they've done it year after year. We have to feel tremendous about getting a hard-earned victory against a special opponent."
Roosevelt Jones' three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer came close, but bounced off the back of the rim and the La Salle faithful stormed the court.
A Tyreek Duren layup put the Explorers on top 50-47 with 3:13 to play after La Salle (13-5, 3-2 A-10) trailed for most of the game.
Smith's layup with 51 seconds remaining, his second in the final two minutes, put Butler back on top, 51-50. Sam Mills answered for La Salle, hitting a floater in the lane to put the Explorers up one with 32 seconds remaining.
Jones, who hit Butler's game-winning layup as time expired to beat No. 8 Gonzaga on Saturday, couldn't come up with a magical bucket two games in a row. His tough runner in the lane with 20 seconds left was no good, but Sam Mills missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up the wild ending.
Duren would finish with 16 points, tied with Smith to lead all scorers, while Mills (11 points, five rebounds) was the only other Explorer in double figures.
This was La Salle's first win over a top-10 team since a 62-60 win over Notre Dame on Jan. 30, 1980.
A 7-0 run late in the first half helped Butler (16-3, 3-1 A-10) grab a 25-15 lead with 3:47 remaining, but La Salle would answer with back-to-back 3-pointers by Tyrone Garland and Duren to prevent the visitors from blowing the game wide open.
"We finished both halves very poorly, as far as giving them a layup both at the end of the (first) half and at the end of the game," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "It cost us."
The Bulldogs were still without the services of senior point guard Rotnei Clarke, who missed his third-straight game after a hard foul against Dayton on Jan. 12 left him with a sprained neck.
Freshman guard Kellen Dunham continued to step up in Clarke's absence, making 6 of his 11 shots, including 3 of 4 from three, for 15 points.
"We basically won at Dayton without Rotnei, beat Richmond and Gonzaga without Rotnei and we lost a one-point game at La Salle to a very good team without Rotnei," Stevens said. "I think we've got to keep that in perspective and move on, but Kellen's done a very nice job."
The Explorers as a team had issues finding the bottom of the bucket during the opening 20 minutes, making just 10 of 31 (32.3 percent) from the floor, including 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range. They would turn that around in the second half, making 13 of 25 (52.0 percent) to help complete the comeback.
Notes: Butler was La Salle's first top-10 opponent at Tom Gola Arena, which opened in 1998. Villanova had previously been the highest-ranked team to visit when they were No. 12 in 2010. ... La Salle and Butler were both previously part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, playing each other six times between 1993-95. ... Butler is ranked in the top 10 of both the AP and USA Today Coaches' polls for the first time since Feb. 8, 2008.

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