Here are three things we learned from LaSalle's 76-74 victory over 12th-seeded Mississippi on Sunday night (West region):
1. Think the good people at VCU are worrying about their school's claim to fame?
In 2011, the inaugural year for the NCAA tournament's First Four round where eight teams vie for four spots in the 64-team NCAA field, through a two-pack of TuesdayWednesday games in Dayton, Ohio VCU shocked everyone by advancing from Dayton ... all the way to the Final Four in Houston (eventually losing to Butler in the national semis).
VCU's rise to glory was the best possible occurrence for the NCAA selection committee, bringing instant legitimacy to the First Four system. That aside, it still felt like a once-in-generation event, as 11-seeds and 16-seeds typically incur arduous roads to the Sweet 16 and Final Four.
But here comes LaSalle, a program that hadn't been to The Big Dance in 21 years, beating Boise State in Dayton, shocking Kansas State in Kansas City and then slipping past Ole Miss on Sunday thanks to backup guard Tyrone Garland's game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds left, busting a 74-all tie.
Sure, the Explorers still must navigate their way through the West regional (Wichita State, Ohio State, Arizona), but they're more than halfway home to achieving a once-unfathomable feat of becoming the second team in First Four history to reach the Final Four.
2. LaSalle's Ramon Galloway has been quite the enigma of late
On the bright side of this stanza, Galloway notched a game-high 24 points for the Explorers, on eight of 13 shooting from the field. It was also his fourth game of 19 or more points since March 6.
On the down side, Galloway went the final 11 minutes of Sunday's close-shave win over Ole Miss without scoring, an extra-long drought that nearly harpooned the Explorers' chances of victory. Luckily, Sam Mills (three-pointer), Jerrell Wright (two points), Tyreek Duren (five points) and Tyrone Garland (game-winning bucket) picked up the scoring slack in the final 4:01.
Bottom line: Against Wichita State, a savvy, athletic club with seasonal wins over VCU, Creighton, Iowa, DePaul, Pittsburgh and Gonzaga (Saturday night's major upset), Galloway simply cannot disappear for long stretches, especially with the game on the line.
3. There are equal positives and negatives to lament regarding Marshall Henderson
The shallow box-score reader will congratulate Henderson for collecting a team-high 21 points against LaSalle, even though he buried just four of 15 three-pointers for a wretched 26 percent. Inside the arc, Henderson was noticeably more efficient, hitting four of six shots from reasonable range.
In turn, the other four Rebels starters Murphy Holloway (14 points, 13 rebounds), Jarvis Summers (12 points, six assists), Nick Williams (10 points), Reginald Buckner (seven points, six rebounds) combined for 18-of-32 shooting from the field, for a 56-percent clip.
In Henderson's defense, he wasn't jacking up crazy shots in bunches, at least against the Explorers, a commendable stance for a high-stakes, high-pressure game that included a Sweet 16 party invite to the winner.
Henderson connected on a pair of big shots in the second half, nailing a 23-footer to extend the Rebels' lead to 59-55. A few minutes later, his 20-footer broke a 62-all tie and seemingly put Ole Miss in control of the game.
But the rainbow jumpers and late leads were short-lived in the end, as LaSalle finished with a 12-5 flurry. That was the difference.