Petrie Fuels Leopards to First League Win
EASTON, Pa. - Freshman Alex Petrie of the Lafayette men's basketball team had a night to remember to open 2018 at Kirby Sports Center on Tuesday, setting the Lafayette rookie scoring record with 29 points to send the Leopards past Holy Cross, 60-48.
"Our guys did a good job finding me and I was able to knock some shots down," Petrie said. "We did a good job defensively as well holding them to 48 points, so it was a good overall win."
The win was the first for the Leopards in Patriot League play, moving them to 1-1 in conference action and 3-10 overall. Holy Cross falls to 3-10 on its season as well, but sits 0-2 in league play.
Petrie's scoring came primarily from beyond the arc as he hit 7-of-8 from distance, the second time this season he's posted seven three's in a single game. He was 8-of-12 overall from the field and hit all six of his free throws. His 29 points broke the previous freshman scoring mark set by Otis Ellis '89, who poured in 27 in a 101-77 win over Delaware on Jan. 18, 1985.
Halftime adjustments were the major theme on Tuesday night as Lafayette turned around a 21-point first half with 39 in the second to pull away. The overall shooting percentage increased by more than 18 percentage points, while the Leopards were 4-of-7 from deep in the second stanza compared to 3-for-16 from the three-point line over the first 20 minutes. Additionally, Lafayette committed just four turnovers in the second half after coughing it up 11 times during the opening session.
Senior co-captain Matt Klinewski was the only other significant source of offense for the Maroon and White, extending his double-figure scoring streak to 16 games with 17 points and seven rebounds on the night. Junior Paulius Zalys also chipped with a near-double-double, adding nine rebounds to his seven points.
For Holy Cross, Karl Charles led three double-figure scorers with 13 points, while Caleb Green and Jehyve Floyd added 11 and 10, respectively. Lafayette held the Crusaders to just 2-of-24 from beyond the three-point line (8.3%) and 18-of-54 shooting overall (33.3%). The 48 points allowed are the fewest since a 61-40 victory over Loyola on Feb. 12, 2014.
It was a sloppy start on both sides through the opening minutes as Lafayette tried to figure out Holy Cross' 1-3-1 zone. Klinewski's jumper from the right elbow brought the Leopards within two at the opening timeout, 7-5, but a Green layup later in that stretch put the visitors ahead by four, 11-7, with 11:29 to play in the opening half.
Petrie's three crept the Leopards back within one at the midway point, but it was tough sledding for the remainder of the half as the Crusaders' defense was tough to break. A Klinewski finish through a foul, followed by another outside shot from Petrie tied it up at 21 with just over a minute to go, but Connor Niego answered with a trey to send the game into halftime at 24-21.
"We played very tentative in the first half. We've seen those defenses in practice and we played like we hadn't seen it before," head coach Fran O'Hanlon added. "We just told them to play at halftime. Got to be able to get in gaps, reverse the basketball and just play Leopard basketball. If we do that, we're going to get shots."
Lafayette came out in the second half doing just that, using the first five minutes to swing the game back in its favor, up 35-31, with 14:57 to play. The game got physical over the next three minutes with technical fouls handed out to either side, but the Leopards still clung to the lead, up 39-33, with 11:43 remaining.
An Austin Butler layup at the 11:22 mark brought Holy Cross within three, but Lafayette answered with finishes at the rim of their own from Petrie and classmate E.J. Stephens to make it 43-37 with 7:49 to play. Floyd's slam at 6:12 made it a two-point game again, but Petrie was the answer once more, scoring five straight to help take the game under the five-minute mark with the lead back at two possessions, 48-43.
A Zalys layup with 1:29 remaining seemed to put the game out of reach with a 55-46 lead. But there was more to play for as Petrie's free-throws with 1:00 to play marked his 28th and 29th points, a momentous performance. From there, the Leopards saw out the final minute, finishing off the Crusaders by a final of 60-48.
The Leopards hit the road for the first time in Patriot League play in their next contest on Friday. Lafayette travels to Hamilton, N.Y. for a 7 p.m. matchup with Colgate before returning home on Monday for a meeting with Bucknell at Kirby Sports Center at 7 p.m.