The Lafayette men’s basketball team failed to cap off a comeback win as the seventh-seeded Leopards ended their season with a 79-74 loss to tenth-seeded Holy Cross on Tuesday. Last Saturday, the team honored co-captains Paulius Zalys and Auston Evans in a pregame ceremony on Senior Day before being defeated by first place Colgate 76-70.
Against Holy Cross, the game stayed close throughout with a back-and-forth first half leading to a 35-35 tie at halftime. The teams traded blows in the second half until back-to-back baskets from the Crusaders forced Lafayette into a timeout with less than 15 minutes left on the clock and a 49-44 deficit on the scoreboard.
The Crusaders kept the lead, but the Leopards began to close in during the final minutes of the game. A seven point deficit with just over two minutes remaining was trimmed down to just one point with 50 seconds left.
In the closing seconds of the contest, a three pointer by sophomore guard Alex Petrie, which would’ve tied the game up, clanged off the rim. Junior forward Lukas Jarrett followed up with a rebound and subsequent three pointer that looked promising, but the ball popped out of the net after going halfway down. After two failed Lafayette attempts to tie up the game, Holy Cross came back to make two free throws, bringing the game and the Leopards’ season to a close.
Petrie and fellow sophomore guard Justin Jaworski had strong offensive performances for the Leopards, scoring 23 and 22 points, respectively. Jarrett recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Zalys chipped in eight points, three assists and three rebounds in his final game for Lafayette.
Last weekend, the Leopards finished their regular season with another close loss to Colgate, 76-70. Prior to tip-off, the team celebrated Zalys and Evans at center court, and both seniors started the game for the Maroon and White.
Four different Leopards scored in the double digits, paced by Jaworski’s 21 points. Jaworski shot 4-9 from long range to add to his 48.9 percent conversion rate on triples this season. That mark ranks second in the nation in shooting efficiency, and breaks the previous Lafayette single-season record of 46.5 percent, held by Jim Mower ’12 during the 2009-10 season.
In addition to leading the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game, Jaworski finished second in the Patriot League in free throw efficiency with a 86.4 percent conversion rate from the line. Jaworski was also named to both the All-Patriot League Third Team, and the Academic All-Patriot League Team.
Zalys and Petrie tallied 16 points apiece, and sophomore guard E.J. Stephens chipped in with a near double-double, recording 10 points and nine rebounds. Stephens also added a pair of assists and steals for Lafayette.
The loss to Colgate prevented the Leopards from a chance at a first round bye in the Patriot League Tournament, something the team hasn’t earned since the 2014-2015 season.
The Leopards finish their season with 10-20 overall record, including a 7-11 mark in Patriot League play.