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 drops three games in a row

Junior guard Luka Savicevic shoots over a Lehigh defender during the Leopards’ loss. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The men’s basketball team (12-18 overall, 10-7 Patriot League) fell to rival Lehigh University 71-63 on Saturday.

With their win, the Mountain Hawks officially swept the regular season series against the Leopards. Lehigh has won 30 games over Lafayette since 2000, while the Maroon and White have won 22 games during the same period.

The game marked the team’s Senior Day celebration inside Kirby Sports Center. Forward Kyle Jenkins and guard Eric Sondberg were honored.

“It definitely put things in perspective,” Sondberg said. “It was crazy how fast these four years went by.”

There was an exciting atmosphere inside the arena as the second-place Leopards looked to add another win to their record.

“I think we learned that every team is going to bring their best to try and beat us, considering our position in the league,” Sondberg said.

The contest started rough, as Lehigh jumped to a 13-5 lead within the first five minutes. The away team continued steamrolling and held a 30-13 lead with seven minutes left in the first half. Lafayette battled back, though, to cut the deficit to 11. The team’s efforts were fueled by junior guard Luka Savicevic. 

“We started pretty slow,” Sondberg said. “It put us in a difficult position for the rest of the game.”

The Mountain Hawks came out strong again at the beginning of the second half when they went on a 13-4 run to take a commanding 50-30 lead at the 15-minute mark. However, the Leopards found a way to fight back once again. Junior center Justin Vander Baan followed a three-pointer from Sondberg with two dunks and a steal to bring Lafayette within seven. With two minutes left in the game, the score was 62-55.

“We never quit. That essentially gave us an opportunity late in the game to come back,” Sondberg said. 

The comeback fell short, though, as Lehigh sunk five free throws. Sondberg scored his third triple with 25 seconds to go, but it was not enough. 

“We played well enough for 30 minutes of the game,” Vander Baan said. “The first five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half, which are two of the most important times of the game, we just got beat.”

Nevertheless, the team is ready to move forward, and hanging heads will do no good.

“We have to put it past us and focus on finishing the season strong,” Sondberg said.

“At the end of the day, it’s just one game,” Vander Baan said. “All we can do is watch film, see what we can do better, and just prepare for these last few games.”

The team went on to lose to Navy 62-58 on Wednesday. Lafayette is now on a three-game losing streak ahead of the final game of the regular season.

Jenkins ended the game with 15 points, while junior guard Devin Hines scored 14. Vander Baan logged 12 points and seven rebounds.

The team is now in third place in the Patriot League standings after holding the second-place position for the majority of the year. The final seeding for the playoffs will go down to the wire, as the Leopards hold the same record as American University (16-14 overall, 10-7 Patriot League). American faces Navy to end its regular season.

Lafayette will face Bucknell University away on Saturday.

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