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 after late Lehigh run, trounces Loyola Maryland

Poor shooting in the second half of their game against Lehigh prevented the Leopards from extending their win streak. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The Lafayette men’s basketball team’s (7-15 overall, 5-4 Patriot League) four-game win streak was snapped by Lehigh (11-8 overall, 6-2 Patriot League) on Saturday evening. The Leopards hung with their rivals for the entire game but allowed the Mountain Hawks to slip away at the end, leading to their first loss since Jan. 5. However, they responded with a dominant win on Wednesday against Loyola Maryland (7-15 overall, 2-7 Patriot League).

The rivalry game was close early, as the two teams entered the first timeout locked at 16, but Lehigh responded with a 10-0 run, forcing the Leopards to regroup. The Leopards brought themselves back into the game with a 10-6 run of their own right before halftime to cut the Brown and White’s lead to six.

After coming out of the locker room down 27-33, the Leopards impressed early in the second half. Sophomore guard TJ Berger hit a trio of three-pointers, bringing the deficit to just one.

“I thought we did a good job of guarding them in the second half, holding them to only 28 points,” Berger said. “On the offensive end, I thought we got pretty good looks that just didn’t fall. We also left some points at the free throw line.”

Sophomore guard CJ Fulton said his team created solid opportunities in the second half. 

“We have lots of different guys on the team who can shoot the ball well and finish at the basket, so when we are executing our offense and moving the ball, we create good opportunities for one another,” he said.

Fulton leads the Patriot League in minutes played (756) and is second in total assists (99).

“Playing that many minutes is tough, but as a player, you want to be out there as much as possible trying to make plays and help the team,” he said. 

The game remained close, as Lafayette sat just one point behind at 49-48 with seven minutes remaining. But from there, Lafayette’s shooters turned ice cold and it was all Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks ripped off a 12-1 run to close the game.

While Berger, Fulton and freshman forward Josh Rivera combined for 36 points, their efforts weren’t enough in the 61-49 loss.

Senior forward and captain Leo O’Boyle, whose 246 total points are the most of any Leopard this season, had an uncharacteristic performance. He ended the game shooting just 25% from beyond the arc and finished with only nine points.

“On to the next one,” Berger said. “We all obviously really wanted to get that game at Stabler Arena, but we’ll get another chance against them at our place. Coach Jordan always says, ‘the biggest game of the season is the next game,’ so we’re sticking true to that.”

The second and final rivalry game of the 2023 regular season is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4 in Kirby Sports Center. 

The Leopards followed up this loss by demolishing Loyola Maryland on their home court Wednesday, 62-46.

The Greyhounds kept it close against the Leopards: with seven minutes to play the score was 25-24 in favor of Lafayette. From there, the Maroon and White seemingly flipped a switch, ripping off a quick 15-0 run to close the half.

O’Boyle rebounded from his tough showing in Bethlehem to lead the Leopards in scoring with 18 points. Berger followed just behind him with 17 points.

The second half was more of the same for the Leopards as they managed to squash any small runs by the Greyhounds early and continued to score at will. The Leopards protected home court, winning by 16, for their fifth win in six games.

Lafayette currently sits locked in a three-way tie for third place in the Patriot League. The Leopards have been steadily climbing the standings after winning five games in 17 days. The team sat at an abysmal 2-14 before their resurgence, but now faces a tough four-game stretch against teams either tied or ahead of them in the standings. 

Lafayette will next play in Hamilton, N.Y. as coach Jordan returns to Colgate – where he coached for a decade – for the first time. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

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Eric Ponieman
Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
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