La Salle had a multitude of chances to upend Big 5 rival Villanova for the first time in 10 years.
The Explorers led by five with 1:24 left in regulation but let it slip away, only to lose 76-69 in overtime Tuesday night.
Unlike the previous nine losses to the Wildcats, this one hurt even more.
“It’s incredibly painful not to win this game,” coach John Giannini said.
“This is as difficult a loss as I’ve had since becoming a head coach in 1989,” the La Salle coach said.
The Explorers left the Pavilion with a 1-1 record. They also left with the realization that they hadn’t defeated ’Nova since 2001.
But there are reasons to be optimistic.
Tyreek Duren scored 24 points and Sam Mills had 19 points, including four 3-pointers.
And the Explorers nearly won without guard Ramon Galloway, who suffered a concussion in the season-opening victory over Lafayette.
There are no moral victories at 20th and Olney —not when they could have won and probably should have won.
“I think we’re going to have a really good season,” Giannini said. “I think our guys will respond. But right now, I don’t think any one of us feels any positivity.”