EASTON, Pa. – Saint Francis Pa. led for a majority of the game, but Lafayette’s defense down the stretch helped the Leopards come from behind for a 61-58 victory on Tuesday night at Kirby Sports Center.
Dan Trist and Tony Johnson were the only double-figure scorers for Lafayette (3-7) in the win, netting 16 and 12 points each. Lafayette shot 87.5 percent from the line (21-of-24), won the rebounding battle (32-27) and was plus-two in the turnover department. Seth Hinrichs grabbed seven rebounds to pace the Leopards.
A poor-shooting first half for the Leopards, 23.1 percent on 6-of-26 from the floor, helped Saint Francis build a 31-22 lead going into halftime. With 3:30 to play in the half, Kam Ritter’s steal and breakaway dunk put SFU ahead 30-20 after Umar Shannon (18 points) drilled a three-pointer on the previous offensive possession.
The Red Flash put together a 10-4 run to start the second half and opened up a 15-point advantage (41-26) early in the period. The Leopards began to put things together, and scored the next nine points on a jumper by Johnson in the paint, a feed from Bryce Scott to Trist for an easy two and a wide-open Scott triple. After two Johnson freebees capped the 9-0 stretch, Shannon connected on a three to end the run and regain Saint Francis’ nine-point lead.
Lafayette chipped away at the lead and closed within four (44-40) on Trist’s hook shot in the lane with 11:32 remaining. The two teams alternated baskets over the next five minutes before Stephon Whyatt’s old-fashioned three-point play gave the Red Flash (0-7) a seven-point lead with six minutes left. Another Trist bucket drew Lafayette within five before Scott sank a three from the left wing to make it a two-point (53-51) game with 5:12 showing.
Following Johnson making one of two at the line, the senior fed Hinrichs in transition and he converted a three-point play to give Lafayette its first lead of the night at 55-53 with 2:18 left. Whyatt hit a three on the other end to regain the one-point lead, before Joey Ptasinski was fouled on a drive and hit both his foul shots. The three by Whyatt was SFU’s only field goal significant field goal over the final 6:18.
Trailing 57-56 with 1:35 to play, Shannon missed an off-balance baseline jumper, but Saint Francis retained possession off the rebound and was awarded a timeout on the scramble under the hoop. Shannon then missed again from three before Ptasinski calmly hit a pair at the line with 15.1 seconds remaining. The Red Flash got a two underneath before Hinrichs was fouled with less than a second remaining as Lafayette came away with the 61-58 win.
Lafayette continues its stretch against Northeast Conference opponents on Friday when it travels to Teaneck, N.J. to challenge Fairleigh Dickinson. Opening tip from Stratis Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Lafayette improved to 3-0 in games decided by less than five points
Lafayette is now 3-0 in games televised by the Lafayette Sports Network
The victory was Lafayette’s first when being outshot by an opponent (1-6)
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