Leopards thrash American in first game after O’Hanlon announces retirement

Junior+Neal+Quinn+%28pictured%29+drives+through+the+lane+for+an+easy+two+in+his+game-making+performance+in+the+win+against+American.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Junior Neal Quinn (pictured) drives through the lane for an easy two in his game-making performance in the win against American. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Craig Barbaro, Staff writer

The Lafayette men’s basketball team has found their stride after a rocky 0-3 start to Patriot League play. The Leopards defeated American University 69-56 on Monday, Jan. 24, for their second consecutive Patriot League win to push their conference record to 2-3. The Leopards currently sit at 5-11 on the season with 11 more Patriot League games to go.

“Overall the team is pretty happy right now,” junior forward Neal Quinn said. “We haven’t had much time in the locker room since we missed some games in January due to Covid. Right now we’re focusing on making up that time by winning games and turning our attention to scouting the following game.”

“Fortunately there’s not a lot of time to overthink it and therefore we just try to play our best every game. Once we get a few guys back from Covid protocols I know we’ll be fine,” Quinn said.

The Leopards’ win over American is impressive considering they are without star senior guard Tyrone Perry. Perry leads the team in minutes per game with 33.7 and is second on the team in points behind junior forward Neal Quinn.

The Leopards were led by a dominant performance from Quinn. Quinn posted a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, leading the team to victory.

“With Ty being out I knew I had to step up,” Quinn said. “Going into the game I told myself I was going to get after it and take on more responsibility for him. I wanted to put my team in the best position to win because I know Ty would do the same if I was out.”

Quinn stepped up massively for the Leopards, playing 36 minutes and shooting 7-12 from the field. Quinn also led the team with seven assists.

Quinn has been on a tear this season, leading the Leopards in points and averaging the fourth-most minutes on the team with 28 per game. Quinn also pilots the Leopards in rebounds, assists and blocks.

“I expected more has been asked of me this year with [’21] Justin Jaworski and [’21] EJ Stephens graduating last year,” Quinn said.

Jaworski and Stephens were powerhouses on the board and graduated with impressive statistics. Jaworski is currently playing for the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA G-League.

“As a result of that there is more on me, Tyrone Perry, and [junior forward] Leo O’Boyle’s shoulders to carry the burden and I think we’ve done a good job of that so far. We all play for each other and get along with each other both on and off the court,” Quinn said.

The Leopards dominated American University throughout the contest and received major contributions from a number of players. Aside from Quinn, sophomore guard Jon Brantley, O’Boyle and sophomore forward Kyle Jenkins all ended up with double-digit points (16, 15 and 10, respectively).

The game remained close until the 12-minute mark of the first quarter, when the Leopards trailed by one to American, 15-14. After the media timeout, the game was all Lafayette as the Leopards went on an 11-2 run to take a 25-17 lead. The Leopards closed out the half on a 9-2 run which gave them a 37-29 going into the break.

American opened the scoring in the second half only for Lafayette to go on an 8-0 run. American then scored five consecutive points to make it a seven-point game but that is as close as they would come to making it competitive. From there the Leopards coasted to a 69-56 win.

The Leopards dominated American throughout the contest, outscoring American 34-22 in the paint and 18-4 in points off turnovers. The Leopards also committed a season low four turnovers while forcing 18.

The Leopards will face Army tomorrow on the road at 1 p.m.

“Our goal for this season is to win a Patriot League Championship,” Quinn said. “That has been the goal since the end of last season. Right now we are taking the season one step at a time and focusing on the game in front of us.”