Leopards Can’t Follow Strong First Half at Army
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Following a first half that saw the Lafayette men’s basketball team up 17 at the break, it was Army that took control in the second as the Leopards couldn’t complete a winning effort on Thursday afternoon in West Point, N.Y., falling by an 81-71 final.
Both teams looked like different versions of themselves on either side of the halftime break. The Leopards shot 54.8 percent from the field and held Army to a 28.2 percent mark in the first half, leading to a 43-26 edge. In the second, though, those numbers flip-flopped as Army shot 55.6 percent from the floor compared to 34.6 percent for the Maroon and White. The Black Knights knocked down 12-of-33 from three-point range (36.4%), with nine coming in the second 20-minute stretch.
Four Lafayette players finished in double-figure scoring, led by 17 from freshman Alex Petrie. Petrie went just 1-for-5 from three, but 7-of-14 overall and added four assists and four rebounds to his line. Senior co-captain Matt Klinewski, freshman Justin Jaworski and junior Paulius Zalys were the other major sources of offense with 14, 14 and 13 points on the day, respectively.
Army also boasted four double-figure performers with Jordan Fox leading the way with a game-high 18 points of 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Matt Wilson followed with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Alex King and John Emezie chipped in with 12 points apiece.
The most noticeable stat on the box score came from the turnover battle. Army was able to score 26 points off Lafayette’s 18 cough-up’s compared to just four on six miscues the other way around.
Overall, the Maroon and White knocked down 26-of-57 from the field on the day, a 45.6 percent mark, more than three percentage points clear of their average. Lafayette went 11-of-28 from the three overall (39.3%) and 8-for-11 from the foul line (72.7%).
Lafayette started in a groove offensively as eight points form Klinewski in the first four minutes powered the Maroon and white to a 10-7 lead at the first timeout. That momentum continued to the 12-minute mark as six more straight pushed it to 16-7 with 11:47 to play in the half.
A Luke Morrison free throw out of the break stopped the run, but did little to swing the momentum as Lafayette continued to execute on both ends of the floor, taking a 25-15 lead into the final stretch of the opening stanza.
Petrie’s shake-and-bake in transition ended with a finish at the rim at the 4:10 mark as Lafayette forced an Army timeout with its lead at 17, 35-18. The Leopards carried that advantage into the final minute as Zalys hit yet another Leopard buzzer-beater, banking in a three from the top of the key to send the game into the break with a 17-point lead, 43-26.
Army came out determined to make a run in the second half as Klinewski’s three stopped a 10-0 spurt and made it 48-36 in favor of the visitors with 15:19 to play. The Black Knights kept trimming the deficit as a King triple from the top of the key sent the half to its midway point with the Leopards up just four, 51-47.
Fox’s back-to-back three’s on either side of the 10-minute mark officially evaporated the halftime deficit, forcing a Lafayette timeout with 9:23 to play and the game tied at 53. Tommy Funk came out of the break and drilled a triple to give Army its first lead of the game, but that edge didn’t last long as Lafayette answered with a Petrie jumper and Klinewski layup to make it 57-56 with 7:50 left.
The teams traded buckets over the next four-minute stretch as Funk’s drive-and-finish down the left side of the lane put Army’s advantage at three, 66-63, with 3:18 to go. Jaworski answered with a three at the 2:55 mark, but Army responded with back-to-back triples to force a Leopard timeout with 1:45 to go and the home lead at seven, 73-66.
A sequence with less than a minute to play ultimately decided the game. Following a Jaworski three, Fox found Wilson on the block, who finished through a foul to put the lead at six, 75-69. Then, Army got the offensive rebound to kill more clock and, from there, it was a free-throw game as the Black Knights closed it out with a final of 81-71.
The Leopards finish off a two-game road swing this weekend, traveling to Baltimore, Md. on Sunday for a meeting with the Greyhounds of Loyola. Tip-off from Reitz Arena is set for 2 p.m.