By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The biggest shot of Marshall Henderson’s career turned out not to be a 3-pointer, and it didn’t find the sweet spot.
Ole Miss had trouble with La Salle’s athleticism, right to the final dagger when Tyron Garland started left and drove through the zone to score with his right hand, lifting the Explorers to a 76-74 win in Sprint Arena and into the Sweet 16.
La Salle will face Wichita State on Thursday in Los Angeles.
For Garland, previous such driving efforts had been snuffed by Ole Miss center Reggie Buckner, but the Explorers hit a couple of looping shots over Buckner as well.
“We couldn’t contain them off the dribble and even in the zone. They are the most explosive team off the bounce we’ve played all year,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Their guard drove it through the best defender in the history of our program and made a play.”
Ole Miss had a six-game winning streak snapped and ends the season 27-9, tying a school-record for wins set by the 2001 team that did reach the Sweet 16.
The Rebels had the ball with 44 seconds left and 12 on the shot clock. Henderson on the play was guarded from the arc and drove inside where his first attempt didn’t draw iron, his second didn’t go down and resulted in a shot clock violation.
There was contact with La Salle guard Tyreek Duren on the play but no foul call.
“I was like, ‘Ref, he just took off my whole arm,’ and he said, ‘He did, he did, but I’m not calling a foul with 1 second left on the shot clock,’” Henderson said.
Henderson finished with 21 points going 8-for-21 from the floor, 4-for-15 from 3-point range.
The Explorers (24-9) held a 40-38 lead on the strength of guard Ramon Galloway, the South Carolina transfer, who was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and had 19 at the break.
Galloway’s legs left in the second half, but teammate Sam Mills found his, hitting two big 3-point shots to keep Ole Miss from surging ahead.
Galloway finished with a game-high 24 points.
The Rebels had two big chances to put away a team playing for the third time in five days.
A 7-0 run gave Ole Miss a 59-55 lead, but Mills hit La Salle’s first non-Galloway three of the night – the teammates were 0-for-9 before then – and it was a 61-60 game.
The Rebels surged ahead again and led 69-64 after a Buckner spin move with 4:18 to play, but La Salle got a five-point trip. Mills hit a 3 and was fouled by Williams. He missed the free throw, but Jerrell Wright rebounded and scored.
Rebels not named Henderson attempted only four 3-point shots and missed them all including Jarvis Summers’ wide open look with a little more than a minute left in a game tied 74-all.
Ole Miss also could have won the game at the free throw line where it was just 10-for-21 with Murphy Holloway and Buckner a combined 5-for-12.
“If you dance with the devil eventually it’s going to get you,” Kennedy said. “We put ourselves in harm’s way, and La Salle made us pay.”