The Lancers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, thumping the Northmont Thunderbolts 62-33 at Dayton Arena. In one of La Salle's best played games of the year, the Lancers executed on both ends of the floor and for the entire 32 minutes.
Coach Fleming said, "It may well have been our best game of the season. We were hitting on all cylinders. The last couple of games we have played pretty well. Yesterday we made some shots that we haven't made in the last two weeks. That was good to see."
Coach Fleming said the game plan going into the game was, "We wanted to keep their guards in front of us, similar to the Princeton game. We thought they would lose patience and take some iffy shots. We had to make sure we rebounded the ball. Offensively we wanted to move the ball and get to the basket as much as we could, not just settling for a quick 3." La Salle accomplished their objective.
On offense the Lancers [23-3] executed to perfection, often getting into the lane and scoring. When they shot 3-pointers they made them. On defense, especially in the 1st half, they kept Northmont from penetrating. When the Thunderbolts shot 3's they missed, and the Lancers got the rebounds.
Five seconds into play Vincent Walker shot a jumper to give the Thunderbolts the early lead. That would be the only lead Northmont would enjoy for the evening. Da'Meak Brandon scored 6 of La Salle's first 8 points as the Lancers sprinted out to an 8-2 lead with 4:13 to go in the quarter. The Lancers ended the quarter with a layup by Tre Crigler to put them in front 14-6.
La Salle ran their offense to perfection, scoring all 14 of their points in the paint. Four of the points came on turnovers and four off the fast break. Coach Fleming added, "I told them before the 1st and the 2nd quarter, let's keep shooting these layups. Don't settle unless we get a wide open 3. We thought their defense after we got by them would break down a little bit. Everybody said we were shooting 50 some percent but we were shooting mostly layups. That definitely helps."
In the second quarter Riley Haubner had what might have been his best quarter of the season, making two 3-pointers and scoring 10 points. When Haubner hit a 3 with 5:58 to go in the half, La Salle had scored 7 straight points, widening their margin to 21-8.
Coach Fleming said of Haubner's performance, "He really got on a nice roll there, made a couple of shots, got to the basket. Riley has a lot of ability and we are just trying to get the most out of him. There is more there and hopefully he will continue to improve."
The Thunderbolts cut the margin to 11 with two free throws by Vinson Walker, but CJ Fleming crushed any hopes of a comeback, hitting two straight 3-pointers to balloon the lead to 32-15 with 49 seconds left in the half. The score at the half ended up La Salle 32, Northmont 17.
For the half La Salle shot a blistering 62% compared to the Thunderbolts' 27%. From 3-point range La Salle was 4/8 compared to Northmont's 0/8. The Lancers had 5 more rebounds and 1 more turnover. Riley Haubner led all scorers with 12 points on 4/5 shooting. CJ Fleming had 8 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
The second half started with the Thunderbolts scoring the first four points, cutting the La Salle lead to 32-21. Tre Crigler wiped out any hope Northmont had of launching a comeback, scoring the next 10 points and spiraling the Lancers' lead to 42-21 with 3:24 left in the quarter. When Joe Hartmann hit a jumper with 1:34 to go the margin grew to 25. La Salle led after three quarters was 47-23.
The game ended with La Salle equaling its largest lead of the evening at 62-33. For the game La Salle shot a sizzling 58% from the field compared to Northmont's 29%. La Salle was 6/11 for 55% from behind the 3-point line. The Thunderbolts were 1/17. La Salle had 12 more rebounds, led by Joe Hartmann with 9.
Tre Crigler led all scorers with 17 points followed by Riley Haubner with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. CJ Fleming had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Da'Meak Brandon had a solid game with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 0 turnovers, playing the point.
La Salle will be part of a regional doubleheader played next Wednesday at the Nutter Center on Wright State's Campus. The schedule is:
No. 12 Mason (21-2) vs. No. 1 Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (25-0) at Wright State University Nutter Center, Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.
No. 13 Cincinnati La Salle (23-3) vs. No. 10 Springfield (23-3) at Wright State University Nutter Center, Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.
Regional Final: at Wright State University Nutter Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Fleming on Springfield
"They are really talented. They have a toughness to them. Three of their guys are really good players. Danny Davis is the player of the year in the district. He is about 6'3" and is going to Wisconsin on a football scholarship. He can really shoot the ball and is a really good athlete. They play hard and are going to be a handful on Wednesday."
Congratulations to CJ Fleming on making 1st Team All-District.