The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Men’s basketball falls to Penn State, Drexel, continues rough start to year

Senior forward Leo O’Boyle puts up a contested shot during Lafayette’s 70-57 loss to Penn State. (Photo by Hannah Ally for GoLeopards)

The Lafayette men’s basketball team fell to the Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday night, 70-57, and then lost to the Drexel Dragons on Wednesday night, 64-56, bringing the Leopards to a disappointing 1-7 record to start the season. While the Maroon and White are yet to face a conference opponent this year, this is their worst start since the 2017-2018 campaign. 

Lafayette opened the game well. Thanks to three-pointers from senior forward Leo O’Boyle and sophomore guard CJ Fulton, the Leopards were ahead 19-12 with 12:13 remaining in the first half, marking their largest lead of the game. 

Despite Lafayette’s early lead, however, Penn State ended the half with a 10-point advantage as a result of clinical shooting from the Nittany Lions; to end the half, they went 16-of-28 shooting from the floor and shot 50 percent from three-point range.

“I think we came out to a great start against Penn State, and we held the lead through the first few media breaks,” O’Boyle said. “We just allowed them to become too comfortable the rest of the game, and let their players do what they do best individually. This game showed once again that winning is not easy.”

Three Penn State players reached double digit scoring, while O’Boyle was the only Leopard to do so on the night. He finished with 19 points on four-for-five shooting from three-point range. He also shot 66.7 percent from the floor and netted all three free throws attempted. He was just three points shy of his career-high of 22, which he reached last week against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The senior forward has now reached double figures in all but two games this season, and he leads the team with 100 points and .452 three-point percentage. He is averaging 14.3 points per game, which is also a team-high. 

O’Boyle praised his teammates for helping him succeed on the court. 

“I believe the reason that I have been scoring well is because my teammates have set me up in great scenarios to make plays that I am capable of capitalizing on,” he said. “Then it’s just about taking and making open shots.”

Sophomore center Justin Vander Baan finished with nine points, matching his season-high at Miami on Nov. 7. The Northbridge, Mass. native was followed by forwards sophomore Chris Rubayo and junior Kyle Jenkins, who had seven apiece. Jenkins currently leads the team in field goal percentage, with .517. Fulton ended the day with five points. He leads the team in three categories, as his 37 assists, 12 steals and 38 rebounds are the most of any Leopard so far this season.

Penn State was simply more accurate with their shooting on the night. Lafayette finished the game with 31 percent field goal percentage, 32.1 percent three-point percentage and 66.7 percent free throw percentage. Penn State finished with 48.2 percent field goal percentage, 40.7 percent three-point percentage and 83.3. percent free throw percentage. 

“We were definitely upset with the loss, but we also understand that Penn State is a good team. It’s important that we don’t hang our heads,” O’Boyle said. “We need to clean up our defense and execution. We need to bounce back and get a win on Wednesday.”

Lafayette was unable to get that win on Wednesday against Drexel, where head coach Mike Jordan was an assistant coach from 2020-2021. While the Maroon and White started hot and took the lead into halftime, they were unable to stop Drexel in the second half, when the Dragons went on a 21-4 run. The Leopards put up a fight towards the end to cut the Dragons’ lead to five, but Drexel made clutch shots and shut the door on the Leopards, 64-56.

This week’s play was the start of a five-game road trip for the Leopards, whose next game at home will be on Dec. 12 against Columbia.  

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Eric Ponieman
Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
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