Men’s basketball falls in consecutive matches, Fulton awarded Rookie of the Week

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Freshman forward Chris Rubayo scored four points on Sunday in double overtime loss against NJIT. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards.com)

Issy Bongiovanni, Staff writer

The men’s basketball team (2-7 overall, 0-0 Patriot League) fell to NJIT 86-90 last Sunday in a double-overtime battle at home after leading for the first half. However, freshman guard CJ Fulton’s career-best performance of 13 points earned him Patriot League Rookie of the Week, announced last Monday. The team then went on to lose to the University of Delaware on the road Wednesday night, 58-68.

Sophomore guard Jon Brantley scored a team-high 19 points, including six three-pointers. With 6:30 left in regulation against NJIT, Brantley secured a 14-point advantage for Lafayette with his fifth three-pointer of the game.

“There was one point in particular, we were coming down the court, I hit a dagger three in transition,” Brantley said. “I felt like it could have put the game away.”

Despite the Leopard’s 69-55 advantage, the Highlanders made a comeback, outscoring Lafayette 17-4 in the final five minutes of regulation. Tied at 75, the game was forced into overtime.

Only eight points were scored overall in the first overtime. With just nine seconds left, the Highlanders were in the lead. Junior forward Kyle Jenkins scored a clutch pair of free throws to tie the score and force a second overtime. Jenkins scored 17 points on the day with five assists and eight rebounds.

NJIT scored first 39 seconds into the final overtime. The Maroon and White responded quickly, with Jenkins assisting junior forward Neal Quinn’s dunk.

“Quinn had a couple of big plays. He and [Jenkins] played very well,” Brantley said. “They had a lot of big plays down the stretch when the game was close, so those two players had a big impact for sure.”

NJIT scored again, bringing them back into the lead, 81-83. Quinn followed up scoring a pair of free-throws as Lafayette and NJIT traded buckets for the first three minutes of the second overtime period.

NJIT’s senior guard Dylan O’Hearn was fouled twice in the final 30 seconds and scored all four free throws, the winning baskets of the game. O’Hearn scored the Highlanders’ final 15 points, ending the game 90-86. O’Hearn led all scorers with 42 points in the game.

Quinn was the first basketball player to record double-figure assists since guard Nick Lidner in 2015. Additionally, this was his second career double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.

Senior guard Tyrone Perry had the second-most minutes in the game and added seven points.

Fulton also reached double-figures with 13 points and five rebounds, his career-best. Fulton’s Rookie of the Week honors marks the team’s first Patriot League weekly award of the season. 

“I’m feeling more comfortable with each game that we’re playing, and the players and the coaches trust me,” Fulton said. “All the guys have been really helpful, I’d say [Perry] in particular. He’s helped me understand the offense and he’s been a role model and mentor for me.”

Fulton posts an 11-point average for the last three contests. On the year, he is averaging 7.5 points per game with 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

“I think Fulton’s accolades really speak for themselves,” Brantley said.

Lafayette made more three-pointers than two-point buckets on Sunday and shot just under 50% from the field.

With assists on 28-of-31 baskets, the Leopards also recorded the most team assists by any Patriot League team this season.

“We were up for most of the game, we were controlling it, and that demonstrates that we just didn’t make plays that we had to in order to get over the line,” Fulton said.

The Leopards followed this loss on the road at the University of Delaware last Wednesday. Delaware got on the board quickly with a jumper 37 seconds in, until junior forward Leo O’Boyle countered with a three-pointer just a minute later to give Lafayette an early lead. O’Boyle led the way for the Leopards on the day with 13 points.

The teams went back and forth until O’Boyle made waves with a three-point play to tie things up at 20-20 with 7:49 left in the first.

After a few breakthrough plays from Delaware, the first half ended with Lafayette trailing, the score at 26-33.

With 13:53 left in the second half, O’Boyle and Fulton made back-to-back threes to make it a three-point game, but the home team managed to push the lead to a seven-point difference.

Delaware was forced into a timeout with 8:30 left after Lafayette had a 7-0 run of their own.

It was Jenkins’ and Brantley’s turn to make back-to-back threes with three minutes left, but Delaware was able to maintain the lead until time ran out with Lafayette down by 10.

The Leopards will be back home tomorrow at 2 p.m. to face Princeton University.