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 ends regular season with fourth consecutive loss

Senior guard Eric Sondberg shoots over a Bucknell defender earlier this year. (Photo by George Varkanis for GoLeopards)

The men’s basketball team (11-20 overall, 10-8 Patriot League) fell to Bucknell University (13-18 overall, 10-8 Patriot League) by a score of 60-50 on Saturday to close out its regular season.

Senior guard Eric Sondberg and senior forward Kyle Jenkins led the way, each scoring 12 points, while junior guard Devin Hines and junior forward Chris Rubayo each added eight more. Junior center Justin Vander Baan rounded out the starting five with seven points of his own. However, it was not a productive night for the Leopards’ offense.

“I think the main thing that went wrong was we couldn’t score the basketball,” freshman guard Mark Butler said. “Overall, we did a really good job defensively — something we struggled with during the past couple of games. Credit to Bucknell on their execution down the stretch as well as their defensive effort.”

The loss marked Lafayette’s fourth in a row heading into playoffs. Nevertheless, the team secured the tournament’s third seed. 

“We know we could’ve done better,” Hines said. “We are in a great position still and want to make the best of the situation moving forward.”

Apart from seeding, a team’s form before the post-season tournament can have a mental effect. 

“Coach McGarvey said our confidence should not waver,” Vander Baan said. “We earned a playoff game at home. We have to play with confidence and fly around and be aggressive on defense.”

A win would have cemented the Maroon and White as the second seed on the last day of the regular season. Instead, Boston University (15-16 overall, 10-8 Patriot League) took the spot behind Colgate University (22-9 overall, 16-2 Patriot League), the champion of the regular season for the third straight season.

While some may see a third-place finish as a positive, the group is not getting carried away with overconfidence.

“We have to play as underdogs regardless of having the three seed,” Vander Baan said. “We have to play with a chip on our shoulder like we did at the start of the conference. It’s still been there, even in some losses, but aggressive defense needs to be the standard.”

Both American University (16-15 overall, 10-8 Patriot League) and Bucknell tied Lafayette’s record and took the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. 

The third-place finish granted the Leopards a first-round bye. They then faced Lehigh University (12-17 overall, 9-9 Patriot League), the sixth-place team, yesterday inside of Kirby Sports Center. The teams had not yet played at the time of publication.

Lehigh won both matchups during the regular season, with the first game going to double overtime. 

“I don’t think it affects us negatively at all,” Butler said. “I think we lost those games more than Lehigh beat us. They are a good team, but I think if we lock in and focus on the minor details like boxing out every possession and making sure our defensive rotations are top-notch, we’ll be in good shape.”

Teams enter playoffs with a blank slate, with the loser of each game eliminated from the competition.

“We obviously want to win every game we play, but we know we have to win now or our season will be over,” Butler said. “I think our mentality is the same as it’s been all season, but now everything is amped up because we know if we lose it’s over.”

While the Patriot League final is scheduled for March 13, the team is bringing the same mindset to every game of the tournament.

“We are taking every playoff game as a mini championship,” Hines said. “We will play hard every possession and make sure we secure the win.”

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Eric Ponieman
Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
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