Buzzer-Beater Spoils Zalys’ Career Night
EASTON, Pa. – Junior Paulius Zalys had arguably his best game as a Leopard on Wednesday evening at Kirby Sports Center, but Navy’s Bryce Dulin beat the buzzer from the right wing to spoil the night for the Lafayette men’s basketball team, sending the Mids to victory by a 75-72 final.
Following senior co-captain Matt Klinewski’s triple to bring Lafayette within one possession at 70-67 with 1:30 left, freshman Justin Jaworski drew a charge on the opposite end to give the Leopards a chance to tie. A pair of stops, but a pair of turnovers left it in a three-point game with five seconds left when rookie Alex Petrie pulled up and nailed a three over Navy’s Tom Lacey to knot it at 72-72.
Unfortunately, that shot didn’t send the game to overtime as five seconds was enough time for the game-winner. Hasan Abdullah took the inbounds pass and found Dulin on the right wing, who left no doubts as his shot sailed through the twine as the buzzer sounded, dropping the Leopards in heartbreaking fashion.
“I’m very proud of our guys. We just compete and our young guys don’t show any fear,” head coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “Even when we got down, there was no quit in our guys. Every game we’re in it to the end, but unfortunately we just came up a little short again tonight.”
Zalys was the go-to option for the majority of the game with his success from the low block. The Kaunas, Lithuania native went 11-for 14 from the field on the night on his way to a career-high 25 points to go along with a team-leading six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 34 minutes.
Petrie and Klinewski were the other double-figure scorers for the Maroon and White, finishing with 15 and 14 points, respectively. The Leopards went 29-for-52 overall on the night (55.8%) and went 6-of-13 from three-point range (46.2%), while Navy knocked down 27 of its 51 shots (52.9%) and 5-of-14 from beyond the arc (35.7%).
The Mids boasted five double-digit scorers in the game, led by 20 from Dulin and 13, 12, 12 and 11 from Shawn Anderson, Abdullah, Evan Wieck and Lacey, respectively. The visitors held a 35-26 edge on the glass, resulting in a 15-4 edge in second-chance points.
Lafayette falls to 4-14 on the year and 2-5 in Patriot League play with the defeat, while Navy improves to 13-7 and 4-3 in conference action.
It was all Leopards early as, after an early 3-2 deficit, the home side rattled off 11 straight to take a 13-3 advantage after the first six minutes. Navy settled in over the next three as four from Anderson brought the Mids back within six at the under-12 media timeout, 15-9.
The Mids continued that run through the next nine-minute stretch, cutting the deficit to one, 28-27, with four minutes remaining. A Dulin triple at the 1:19 mark gave Navy its first lead since 3-2 and Eric Stafford free throws followed a George Kiernan layup in the final minute to take the game into halftime with the visitors up one, 33-32.
Navy began the second half on the front foot as jumpers from Dulin and Lacey answered a finish through a foul from Zalys to extend the visiting edge to seven with 17:02 on the clock. But Zalys kept coming for the Maroon and White as six more from the junior forced a Navy timeout at 13:19 with the deficit trimmed to four, 44-40.
A Dulin triple at the 11:50 mark was the answer for the Mids, who worked their way through a choppy next four minutes to stretch their lead to 10 at the 7:52 mark, 58-48. Zalys continued to be the main source of offense for Lafayette as his layup helped keep the Leopards in it, down eight with 4:27 to go, 65-57.
Zalys’ bucket from the block at the 2:36 mark lit a fire under the Lafayette bench to get the Maroon and White back in it. Klinewski’s three followed at 1:30 and started a dramatic stretch to finish it out with Navy on top, 75-72.
Next up for Lafayette is a trek back to the road this weekend, traveling to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with American on Saturday at 2 p.m.