Feb. 29, 2012
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WORCESTER, Mass. - Led by Rob Delaney'scareer-high 25 points, Lafayette upended Holy Cross 84-76 on Wednesday night in the Patriot League Quarterfinals at the Hart Center. The fifth-seeded Leopards will travel to Lewisburg, Pa. on Saturday to take on the No. 1 seed Bucknell at 4:30 p.m.
Delaney's points came on an 8-of-9 shooting effort and 5-of-5 from downtown to lead three Leopards in double figures. Jim Mower scored 18 and Ryan Willenadded 12 points and seven rebounds as Lafayette eliminated Holy Cross on its home court for the second straight season. Lafayette was in control for the majority of the game, never trailing and tied just once in the second half.
Lafayette (13-17) sprinted out of the gate to take a 12-2 lead on Mower's three-pointer a little more than four minutes into the game. A jumper from Mike Cavataio followed by a three from Dee Goens cut it to 12-7, but Mower drained another three to make 15-7 in favor of Lafayette at 13:20.
Leading 20-15 after Jordan Stevens' layup at 10:47, Lafayette strung together a 10-2 stretch. The run included two buckets from Dan Tristinside and a pair of threes from Delaney. Dave Dudzinski, who scored 14 first-half points (five above his per game average) for the Crusaders, made the lone Holy Cross basket during the run.
Les Smith's free throw gave Lafayette its largest advantage 33-19 with 7:33 to play in the half, before Holy Cross trimmed the deficit to eight points with 5:18 showing after scoring six straight points. Devin Brown's jumper started the run. Dudzinski made a layup and Goens deposited another. Delaney's triple on the next possession pushed the lead back to 11 before Mower drilled another trifecta to regain the 14-point lead.
Holy Cross (15-14) used a 13-2 spurt to end the half prior to Delaney's layup right before the buzzer. The Leopards shot 64 percent from the field in the first half and 8-of-12 from beyond the arc, taking a 43-38 lead into the locker room. Delaney scored 16 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-6 shooting, including four treys.
Holy Cross worked its way back into the game early in the second half. A layup by R.J. Evans tied the game at 56-56 with 11:20 to play, but Lafayette answered with five straight points from Mower. After a stepback jumper from the top of the key, Mower took a dribble and stuck a three from the right wing with Dudzinski in his face at 9:52.
The Crusaders pulled within one after consecutive baskets by Cavataio and Brown before Willen's bucket and foul made it 61-58 with less than nine minutes remaining. Over the next three minutes, Lafayette went 6-for-6 from the line, while Holy Cross hit 2-of-4 attempts.
With 5:17 to play, Delaney connected on another three to push the margin to 72-62 and force Holy Cross to call a timeout. After the stoppage, a pair of free throws from Evans was answered by a Delaney jumper before Delaney took a charge on Devin Brown in transition with 3:48 to play and a 74-64 lead.
Evans, who finished with 18 points to pace Holy Cross, scored the next five points before Willen sank two freebies to make it a seven-point game with 1:21 to go. A Justin Burrell basket and two Dudzinzski free throws cut it to three points with 41 seconds to play but Lafayette made its final eight free throw attempts to close out the game.
Lafayette finished the game shooting 58.5 percent, its highest percentage of the season. The Leopards were even better from outside, knocking down 13-of-19 three-point attempts (68 percent). Lafayette held Patriot League Rookie of the Year Justin Burrell to seven points, including a meaningless layup with eight seconds remaining, with one assist in 24 minutes.
The Leopards turned it over 19 times, including 13 in the second half while forcing 14 Holy Cross turnovers. Lafayette shot 79 percent from the line, converting 23-of-29, while holding their own on the boards with Holy Cross holding a 28-24 advantage.
Saturday's game versus Bucknell will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 4:30 p.m., Lafayette's fifth national television appearance of the season.