Men’s Hoops Pulls Away Late for 79-58 Win
EASTON, Pa. – After back-to-back losses by four points or less, the Lafayette men’s basketball team secured its first win of the season in convincing fashion on Saturday afternoon at Kirby Sports Center, taking care of Quinnipiac, 79-58.
“Hopefully we grow up from this. We survived,” head coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “I wouldn’t say we executed as well as we would’ve liked, but we were still able to close it out with some big shots down the stretch.”
The start of the second half is really what made the difference in the game as, trailing by a 30-29 score, freshman Justin Jaworski netted the first five points out of the locker room to retake the lead for good. Jaworski, coming off a 24-point effort on Wednesday, backed that up with 19 points on Saturday, missing just one shot from the field (7-for-8, 3-of-3 from three-point range).
Then, senior co-captain Matt Klinewski took over with 14 straight points for the Maroon and White, a run that the Bobcats couldn’t overcome. Klinewski finished with a game-high 26 points on 6-of-12 shooting, hitting all 13 of his free-throw’s.
While Klinewski’s numbers are becoming expected as a senior leader that the Leopards rely upon each and every night, it was freshmen E.J. Stephens and Jaworski that put forward two of their best performances, showing promise for future contests. Stephens posted 18 points on 6-of-10 from the field with three rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.
That second-half surge opened up what had been a tight game up until that point in Lafayette’s favor. In a defensive stalemate that saw both teams shooting less than 40 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, the Leopards took over out of the locker room, scoring 10 straight points to regain the lead and force a Quinnipiac timeout with the lead at nine.
The advantage remained in a manageable 7-14 points through the first eight minutes of the half before Quinnipiac went to its press to get back in it. The Leopards struggled with three straight turnovers to reduce the edge to eight at 50-42 with 10:54 to play.
Klinewski, Stephens and Jaworski hit their strides after that, never allowing the Bobcats to get closer than a seven-point cushion for the remainder of the game. A triple from Stephens broke it open late, extending the lead to 16 with 1:25 left in the game. Jaworski’s three with 14 seconds left was the final nail in the coffin, closing out the 79-58 win.
Klinewski and junior Paulius Zalys paced the Maroon and White on the glass with seven and six boards, respectively, while Jaworski and Zalys each added three assists to help the cause. Lafayette shot 22-for-46 from the field (47.8%) and 8-of-24 from three-point range (33.3%), but was especially efficient from the foul line, knocking down 27-of-29 from the charity stripe (93.1%).
Another bright spot Lafayette’s defensive play, holding the Bobcats to 58 total points, the lowest points allowed since the second game of the season a year ago, a 61-57 victory at Saint Peter’s. Quinnipiac had just two players in double-figure scoring, led by Chaise Daniels with 12.
The Maroon and White will look for back-to-back wins on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader at Kirby Sports Center. The Lafayette women will battle Princeton at 6 p.m., followed by the men taking on Penn at 8 p.m.