Basketball drops back-to-back Ivy League matchups

Sophomore+guard+Devin+Hines+goes+up+for+a+rebound+during+the+Leopards+losing+effort+against+Cornell.%0A%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Sophomore guard Devin Hines goes up for a rebound during the Leopards’ losing effort against Cornell. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The Lafayette men’s basketball team (1-9 overall, 0-0 Patriot League) fell to the Cornell Big Red 73-68 on Sunday before falling 69-58 to the Princeton Tigers on Tuesday. This marked five consecutive losses for the Leopards. 

Cornell opened last weekend’s game strong offensively, but Lafayette managed to even the score later in the half. The Big Red hit the Leopards with back door cuts, drives down the lane, threes and layups. The Maroon and White responded with more off-ball pressure on top of their hard-nosed man-to-man defense.

In the final play of the half, junior guard Ryan Zambie drove it up the left side and quickly found sophomore guard TJ Berger.

“Looking at where the defense was, I didn’t have much time to do anything else other than shoot, so I got my eyes on the rim,” Berger said. 

His shot landed, making the score 41-41 at the halftime buzzer.

The biggest focus for Lafayette heading into the second half was defense. 

“We figured if we could string some stops together, we’d be in a good position to win the game,” Berger said. 

Sophomore center Justin Vander Baan, a transfer from Boston College, put the Maroon and White up to open the half with two lay-ups.

“We stayed on pace with them all game. The third quarter went better than usual,” he said. 

Sophomore guard and captain CJ Fulton responded to Cornell’s points from the arc with a three of his own, tying the game again 58-58. 

In the final minutes of regulation, Lafayette was able to take a five-point lead but watched it dwindle as Cornell succeeded in seven attempts from the line off fast-break fouls. 

Last-ditch three-pointers with five seconds left by Berger and senior forward Leo O’Boyle did not land.

Junior forward Kyle Jenkins led the way for the Leopards with 17 points, followed by O’Boyle, who scored 14, and Berger, who scored 11. 

Lafayette was overpowered in each statistical category in Sunday’s contest, losing in points off turnovers (11-8),  points in the paint (34-26) and points off fast breaks (33-6).

“We put ourselves in a position where we should’ve won the game, everyone on the team believes that, we just kinda gave it away unfortunately,” Vander Baan said. 

Lafayette was back on the road Tuesday night to play against Princeton.

Vander Baan said that heading into the midweek play, the Maroon and White planned to make the simple plays to get the win.

The Tigers set the tone in the first half, going up by as much as 11. The Leopards eventually clawed their way back to trail by only one possession heading into half, 28-31. 

Freshman Ryan Pettit’s three at 7:00 gave Lafayette their first lead of the game, 38-37. 

Princeton’s 11-point scoring run at the end of quarter three, however, challenged Lafayette’s plans. The Leopards were not able to chip away, with the final score reading 69-58. 

The top contributors for Lafayette were Fulton and Jenkins, with 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Head coach Michal Jordan tells the team that there are really three seasons within a season: pre-season, season and post-conference play.

“Our record sucks, but we have confidence because we’ve competed every single game,” Vander Baan said. “We could easily be two or three games over five hundred right now, so we have confidence as a group, but hopefully getting another win in the column will help our confidence going into conference [play].”

The Leopards travel to Hamden, C.T. to play the Quinnipiac Wildcats tomorrow at 1 p.m.