Men’s basketball triumphs over Rutgers in first win of season

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Nicky Nathanson, Staff Writer

After falling to nationally-ranked powerhouse Duke University 55-88 last weekend, the Lafayette men’s basketball team (1-4 overall, 0-0 Patriot League) traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey on Nov. 22 where they defeated Rutgers University, a Power-Five school, 53-51. This was the first win of the season for the Leopards, who have yet to play in conference.

“I think the early experience this season is definitely helping us grow and come together as a team,” sophomore forward Kyle Jenkins said. “With the tough out-of-conference schedule, we get a chance to play against the best in some great atmospheres which is only going to help us once we get to Patriot League games.”

Throughout the first half, both sides were trading scores. A quarter into the game, the Leopards built up a lead of four at 19-15. However, Rutgers went on a 12-2 run to take the lead at 27-21. Both teams continued to counter before junior forward Leo O’Boyle hit a three-pointer with two seconds left in the first half. O’Boyle had 18 points on the day with four boards and accounted for the Leopards’ first six in the game. The Leopards trailed by just one at halftime, 28-29.

Much like the first half, the beginning of the second began with both sides trading buckets with the score tied 32-32. A 10-3 run was initiated by a jumper from Jenkins with 16 minutes left, allowing Lafayette to regain the lead.

Suddenly caught off guard, Rutgers called a timeout. Fresh off the timeout Rutgers went on a 10-2 run to regain the lead at 45-44.

Junior forward Neal Quinn hit a shot a few seconds later to regain the lead for the Leopards. With just two minutes left, the Leopards led 50-47. Quinn made double-figures with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

With 1:06 left, Quinn fouled Rutgers senior guard and forward Ron Harper Jr., sending him to the line. Harper hit one of two free throws, cutting Lafayette’s lead to 50-48.

On the next ensuing possession, Harper stole the ball with 37 seconds left and hit a three-pointer. With Lafayette one, coach Fred O’Hanlon took a 30-second timeout to devise a game plan for the remaining seconds.

Whatever he said in the huddle worked, and the Leopards came out on the very next possession and won the game as Jenkins hit a game-winning three-pointer with just 2 seconds left. Jenkins finished the day with five points and eight rebounds. 

“I was just trying to get to a spot to get a clean look at the rim. It came my way and Tyrone [Perry] found me,” Jenkins said. “Off my hand it felt good, so I was confident it was going in. I’m glad we were able to pull out a hard-fought team win.”

The win marks Lafayette’s first win over a Power-Five opponent since 2011 against Penn State.

The Leopards will look to continue their momentum on Monday, Nov. 29 as they head to New York to take on Columbia University.