NCAA Tournament

La Salle reaches Sweet 16 with win over Ole Miss, will face Wichita State

La Salle guard Tyrone Garland calls it the Southwest Philly Floater.

It’s a shot he’s made countless times on the playgrounds and school yards of his native Philadelphia but never in the spotlight of the NCAA Tournament. Until Sunday night.

With the clock ticking down in a tie game, Garland drove the lane, floated around Mississippi shot blocker Reginald Buckner and laid in the game-winning basket with 2.5 seconds to play, giving the 13th-seeded Explorers a 76-74 over the No. 12 Rebels at the Sprint Center.

The Explorers, who have won three NCAA Tournament games in five nights, advanced to the Sweet 16 and face No. 9 Wichita State on Thursday in Los Angeles.

It’s the farthest La Salle has advanced in the NCAA Tournament since 1955 when the Explorers reached the title game of a 24-team tournament and lost in their defense of the title they won at Municipal Auditorium to Bill Russell’s University of San Francisco team.

“What a great win, what a great weekend over here,” La Salle coach John Giannini said. “We’ve talked all week about the great La Salle tradition, and when you come in, you want to bring that back. These guys are doing it right before our eyes.”

Garland, a junior transfer from Virginia Tech who didn’t become eligible until mid-December, etched his name in Salle lore with his game-winning basket.

The score was tied at 74 when Ole Miss’ Jarvis Summers air balled a shot, and in the scramble under the boards, the ball went out of bounds to the Rebels with 44 seconds left but just 12 seconds on the shot clock. The shot clock expired as Rebels’ scoring leader Marshall Henderson tried getting off a shot and a follow shot, giving La Salle possession with 32 seconds to play.

Garland took a pass from Tyreek Duren, and with 5 seconds to play, sliced through the Ole Miss zone toward the basket. And he showed Buckner and the remaining fans from the crowd of 18,498 the Southwest Philly Floater.

“It’s something you call on the playground,” said Garland. “When you see a big defender, and you lay the ball up and they call it a Southwest Floater I was hearing that as I was growing up playing in the playgrounds.

“(Buckner) blocked my shot a couple of times during the game, but I’m not scared of anybody. I knew if I could get a clear shot, I knew I could make it.”

The Rebels were not convinced there was a shot clock violation before Garland’s heroics, and Henderson screamed at the officials that he was fouled.

“The shot-clock violation, he got it up on the rim, followed it, next thing they’re calling a shot-clock violation,” said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, whose team would have won had they not gone 10 for 21 from the free throw line, including three for nine in the second half.

“The timing of it, was he fouled before or after the violation? There are a lot of things that run through your head, you wish you had this play back, that play back. La Salle won the game because of their shooting ability in the game. I don’t know the last time we gave up 50 percent from the floor we certainly haven’t during this run. They earned the right to go to the Sweet 16.”

La Salle, 24-9, which had to beat Boise State in a play-in game Wednesday just to get to Kansas City, where the Explorers beat Kansas State last Friday, believe they can maintain their momentum against Wichita State when they play their fourth game in eight days in three cities and three time zones.

“We’re pretty young,” said guard Ramon Galloway, who led the Explorers with 24 points. “It just feels like AAU all over again. We play a game, go to sleep, wake up, play another game.”

Fellow guard Tyreek Duren, who scored 19 points, added: “You don’t really have time to be tired at this point. You got to wake up and win games. Simple as that. In AAU, we used to play three games a day.”

And there’s this bonus, said Garland, who finished with 17: “You don’t have to go to back to school. We get to go to Southern Callie ”