Offense Clicks for Season Sweep of Colgate
EASTON, Pa. – The Lafayette men’s basketball team was clicking on all cylinders on Wednesday evening at Kirby Sports Center, putting together its best offensive outing of the season in a 93-83 win over Colgate.
“I thought we played more consistent throughout the whole game. We got off to a good start and didn’t run into those long stretches where we couldn’t score,” head coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “I thought everybody stepped up and did a terrific job.”
The Leopards, who have struggled recently putting back-to-back good halves together, certainly broke out of that rut on Wednesday, following up a 44.8 percent shooting mark from the floor in the first half with a scintillating 60.0 percent mark in the second. The win completes the season sweep of Colgate as freshman Justin Jaworski’s game-winner with three seconds on the clock took care of the Raiders in Hamilton, N.Y. on Jan. 5. Lafayette improves to 6-16 on the year and 4-7 in conference action, while Colgate falls to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in Patriot League play.
“This win shows how much we’ve been growing as a team and how our hard work can pay off,” senior co-captain Matt Klinewski added. “We’ll keep working and hopefully keep winning games at home, especially with the crowds we’ve been having and the intensity we bring here.”
Lafayette boasted five players in double-figures against a D-I opponent for the first time since March 5, 2015 as freshman Alex Petrie led all scorers with 23 points on 4-of-5 from three-point range and 7-of-7 from the foul line. Klinewski was two rebounds shy of his second double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points, eight boards and two assists to move his double-figure scoring streak to 25 straight contests.
The other co-captain in senior Eric Stafford put together his best game of his final campaign, scoring a season-high 12 points to go along with seven assists, five rebounds, two blocks, two steals and just one turnover. Junior Paulius Zalys and freshman E.J. Stephens rounded out the offensive sources with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“We’ve been talking a lot about how we can avoid those tough stretches and I think a lot of it comes from positivity and encouraging our guys,” Stafford said. “Now that we’re in the second half of Patriot League play with a lot of young guys, I think we’re gaining more experience and figuring out how to perform and execute our offense when our opponents make their runs.”
As a unit, it was as efficient a night as the Leopards have had this season, racking up 20 assists as a team, the highest total since a 20-helper outing at La Salle on Nov. 23, 2015. Lafayette won the rebounding battle by a 33-30 margin after trailing 20-15 on the glass at the halftime break, and nine different players were on the floor for more than 13 minutes.
Both teams spent the first four minutes figuring each other out as the Leopards won a defensive stretch with a Stafford three at the end of the shot clock to make it 6-3 with 16:01 on the clock. Colgate’s Jordan Swopshire answered with a triple on the other end, but a 9-2 Lafayette run followed as sophomore Myles Cherry’s sky hook from the left block made it 15-8 in favor of the Maroon and White approaching the midway point of the half.
The Raiders made their move through the eight-minute mark, cutting the Lafayette lead to just one on a Malcolm Regisford post bucket at 7:57. But Petrie came back and put a shake-and-bake move on a defender before drilling a triple in the left corner to make it 25-21 into the eight-minute media timeout.
The Leopards held the Raiders at bay with a two-possession lead until the 2:52 mark when Jordan Burns finished through a Jaworski foul and hit the free throw to make it a two-point game, 35-33. That didn’t swing momentum into the break, though, as the Leopards got a stop on the final possession and went into the halftime intermission on top by four, 42-38.
It was all Lafayette to open the second stanza, using nine points from Klinewski to spark a 13-2 start that put the lead at 15, 55-40, with 16:28 to play. Colgate responded with eight straight of their own to cut the Leopards’ lead to seven at the 14:21 mark, but a Petrie jumper following a Lukas Jarrett three moved the edge back out to 10 with 9:54 left, 65-55.
The lead remained in that 8-12-point range through the final media timeout as Lafayette continued to counter any makings of a Colgate run, leading 79-69 with 3:54 left. There was little drama over the final minutes as the Leopards finished off their most complete game of the year with a final of 93-83.
The Maroon and White will look to carry that momentum into their next contest on Saturday, traveling to Lewisburg, Pa. for a meeting with league-leading Bucknell. Tip-off from Sojka Pavilion is set for 7 p.m.