Defensive Battle Sinks Leopards at Sacred Heart
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Lafayette men’s basketball team couldn’t find its offense throughout the day on Saturday afternoon at Sacred Heart, dropping a 62-50 decision on the road in Fairfield, Conn.
The Leopards’ defense held up throughout the day, allowing just 62 points, the second-lowest this season. However, the offense didn’t complement that effort as Lafayette knocked down just 19-of-64 from the field (29.7%) and went 4-of-25 from three-point range (16.0%).
Senior co-captain Matt Klinewski finished as the team leader offensively with 11 points to go along with eight rebounds, while freshman Justin Jaworski was the other double-figure scorer with 10 points on the day. Senior co-captain Eric Stafford added nine points, seven rebounds and four assists as another bright spot in an otherwise tough offensive day.
After a first half that saw Lafayette score 19 points and commit nine turnovers, the Leopards turned that around in the second, coughing up the ball just twice the rest of the afternoon. Despite that, the shots just wouldn’t fall to help the Leopards complete the comeback.
The loss moves the Maroon and White to 1-8 overall on the season, while Sacred Heart improves to 5-5. The Leopards move into finals this week with nine days off before their next contest on Dec. 18.
It was a choppy start from both sides as two triples from Sean Hoehn pushed the home side to a 9-5 lead, a margin that stood to the midway point of the half with the game heading into the under-12 media timeout at 15-11. Freshman Alex Petrie’s floater pulled Lafayette within two at the 10:59 mark, but the Pioneers answered with seven straight to take it under the four-minute mark with the advantage at nine, 22-13.
The offense continued to struggle over the final few minutes before Jaworski finally broke through on a drive to the bucket with 2:01 to play to make it 26-17. In the final minute, sophomore Lukas Jarrett’s defense set up the Leopards with a chance to cut into the deficit as he blocked a three-point attempt from the top of the key. On the ensuing possession, Klinewski made his move from the block, getting the turnaround to fall and pushing the game to halftime with the deficit at eight, 27-19.
The second half continued the battle with little going on offensively from either side as Sacred Heart led 31-22 with 15:35 left. Back-to-back buckets from freshman E.J. Stephens on either side of the 15-minute mark looked to start a potential run, but the offense remained cold after that as the game moved under 12 minutes with the score at 35-26.
Out of the timeout, Stafford and Stephens finished back-to-back times through fouls to pull the Leopards within four at 35-31. But the Pioneers responded, scoring eight of the next nine points to stretch their lead out to 11 with 8:06 left, 44-33.
That run put the Leopards away for good as Lafayette couldn’t pull back within closer than nine the remainder of the game, falling by a 62-50 score. Next up for the Maroon and White following the break is a home contest with Susquehanna on Dec. 18 with tipoff from Kirby Sports Center set for 7 p.m.