Hard-Fought Comeback Falls Short for Men’s Hoops
EASTON, Pa. – The Lafayette men’s basketball team put together one of its most resilient performances of the season on Saturday afternoon at Kirby Sports Center, but fell short in the end against Loyola by a final score of 70-62.
After trailing by 28 points with 6:30 to play in the opening half, the Leopards went on a 41-10 tear through the halftime break to eventually cut it to one at 48-47 with 10:01 to play. However, Loyola answered with 10 straight from that point and rode out the final minutes to send the Leopards to their eighth league loss. Lafayette falls to 6-15 overall and 2-8 in Patriot League play, while the Greyhounds improve to 11-10 and 5-5 in conference action.
“We dug ourselves a tremendous hole to start the game,” head coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “I thought we did a terrific job after the first 10 minutes of just starting to defend and play with some energy. You spend so much to get back in that game and, at the end, they made the plays and you have to give them credit.”
Senior captain Nick Lindner was excellent on the afternoon, scoring 13 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. The Doylestown, Pa. native racked up seven assists, leaving him three shy of the 500 mark for his career.
“We started to play a little bit angry. It was a little embarrassing to go down that much, that fast on our home floor. Every single one of us just dug down and played harder,” Lindner added. “I think our team showed great resiliency and some maturity for a young team.”
Junior Matt Klinewski was the only other Leopard in double-figure scoring, managing 10 points on 4-of-11 from the field. Sophomore Paulius Zalys contributed from the 3/4 spot, ripping down nine rebounds to go along with six points.
Loyola’s Cam Gregory was excellent and really hurt the Leopards from the low block. Gregory posted 21 points and 14 rebounds, with six coming on the offensive end. Jarred Jones was the other major source of offense, garnering his 1,000th career point and finishing with 18 on 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Loyola came out attacking the paint with six of their first eight points coming from the low block. Lindner answered with a triple for Lafayette’s first points at the 16:59 mark, taking the game into its first break at 15:54 with the visitors on top, 8-3.
It was all Loyola over the next four-minute stretch as the Hounds followed Lindner’s triple with 13 of the next 14 points to lead by 15, 19-4, with 11:30 on the clock. The lead continued to grow from there, expanding to 22 at 30-8 with 8:18 left in the first.
The Leopards settled in, matching the Hounds over the next five minutes to make it 38-16 with 3:39 left, and then made their move. Lafayette closed the half with 14 of the final 17 points, led by four from sophomore Auston Evans, including a fast-break finish to beat the buzzer and send the game into the break with the deficit at just 11, 41-30.
The Leopards cut the Loyola lead by two over the first four minutes of the second half as a Klinewski jumper and Kyle Stout three made it 44-35 with 15:23 to play. Another Stout triple, followed by a Lindner layup made it 46-40, but a Gregory lay-up on a feed from Andre Walker made it 48-40 into the under-12 media timeout.
Seven straight out of that break pulled the Leopards all the way within one at 48-47, but the Hounds answered with a Jones finish through a foul and a Gregory put-back to push it back to 53-47 with 7:52 left. Five more from the Hounds put the lead back out to 11 at 6:58 and Loyola was able to manage the final stretch with free throws, walking away with a 70-62 victory.
Lafayette hits the road for a pair of games to start the month February, opening in West Point, N.Y. on Wednesday for a battle with Army at 7 p.m.