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 loses first Patriot League games of season

Junior center Justin Vander Baan drives past a Terrier defender. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The men’s basketball team’s red-hot start to conference play was finally brought to an end with consecutive losses on Saturday and Wednesday.

First, the Leopards (8-14 overall, 7-2 Patriot League) lost 62-48 to Boston University (8-14 overall, 3-6 Patriot League). 

Despite the teams’ identical overall records, the Leopards came into the game as the strong favorites — one of the Leopards’ seven straight victories heading into the matchup had come against the Terriers in a 59-51 win earlier this month.

Almost 1,500 people attended Saturday’s game. While there was a strong student presence, members of the Easton community also showed their support.

“The crowd was awesome,” junior center Justin Vander Baan said. “It’s our job to give them something to cheer about, to keep the community’s support and to get more students to games.”

However, it was the away team that started off on the right foot. With a slightly better field goal percentage and three free throws made to Lafayette’s zero, Boston went into halftime up by a score of 32-25.

“Boston played better than we did, obviously, but they were the aggressor,” Vander Baan said. “So far in the new year, we’ve been the aggressor in almost all the games we’ve played. They were the more physical team.”

Boston’s sophomore forward Otto Landrum was the star of the game, as his offensive display helped bring the visiting side to a 40-27 advantage with 13:26 remaining. He ended the game with 26 points while nobody else on the floor scored more than eight.

Lafayette’s lackluster shooting did not help its chances of a comeback. In the second half, the Leopards shot a field goal percentage of 22.22, a three-point percentage of 20.00 and a free throw percentage of 69.23. During the seven straight in-conference games they won, the Maroon and White played only one game – against the Terriers – during which they shot under 40 percent from the field.

Freshman guard/forward Joshua Wyche matched his career high of seven points, further cementing himself as a consistent contributor. The Philadelphia native has now played in all but one game so far this season.

“It feels great to be able to contribute to the team,” Wyche said. “It seems to me that the game is slowing down, and I’ve been able to understand and make better reads as we’ve been going through the season. Regardless of what my role may be, I’m glad that I can make an impact and help our team be better.”

Vander Baan finished the game with eight points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Eric Sondberg, senior forward Kyle Jenkins and freshman guard Luke Rasmussen combined for 19 points. 

The loss was Lafayette’s first since Dec. 30 and its first in the Patriot League this season. While it was a disappointing result, the team is focusing on maintaining its morale and improving. 

“The mood in the locker room is still good,” Vander Baan said. “We’re not going to overreact to one loss, and we will learn from it and come out better from it.”

The team went on to lose its second game in a row against American University (12-10 overall, 6-3 Patriot League) on Wednesday night. Junior guard Devin Hines, senior forward Kyle Jenkins and senior guard Eric Sondberg scored 17, 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Losing by a score of 69-66, the Leopards fell to the second-place spot in the Patriot League standings. Reigning champion Colgate (14-8 overall, 8-1 Patriot League) has taken sole possession of first place after blowing out Army (6-16 overall, 2-7 Patriot League) by a score of 74-55.

The Maroon and White face Army away on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

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Eric Ponieman
Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
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