When It Came to Basketball Domination, 1954–1955, LaSalle College Did Almost Everything. Almost.

If you watched UConn basketball defeat Illinois 77–52 last week, you may have heard the national broadcasters mention the UConn Huskies’ +86-point advantage rate. The astronomically high number (2nd as a reigning champion) is only second to one of Philadelphia’s finest college basketball teams ever.

The 1954–1955 LaSalle Explorers Basketball Team.

This team followed the 1953–1954 LaSalle Mens Basketball National Championship Team.

The 1954 LaSalle Team (26–4) wasn’t just Philly’s first basketball National Championship; their play can be described as well — athletic annihilation.

Complete with future NBA players Tom Gola and Frank O’Hara, the Explorers cruised through the NCAA Tournament, defeating Fordham 76- 74, NC State 88-81, Navy 64-48, and Penn State 69-54.

In the Championship, they defeated Bradley 92–76 at Municipal Stadium.

In 1955, things were looking up for LaSalle once again. With Tom Gola returning and other stars like Robert Ames, The Explorers cruised to a 26–5 record and were lethal against opponents in the tournament. LaSalle defeated West Virginia 95–61, Princeton 73–46, Canisius 99–64, and Iowa 76–73.

Only one problem. LaSalle would lose the Championship Game to San Francisco 77–63.

With its first basketball season in 1930, The Explorers have had twelve appearances in the March Madness. They were National Champions in 1954 and lost the National Championship Game in 1955.

LaSalle didn’t win a national championship in 1955. 

But they have stayed in the record books for nearly 70 years.


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