Army Outguns Lafayette
Black Knights sweep season series against the Leopards
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:02
What goes around comes around. After winning by 20+ points three out of their last four games, the Lafayette men’s basketball team (12-14 overall, 5-4 Patriot League) got a taste of their own medicine, taking a 85-68 beating from Army (11-13, 4-5). This is their second 20+ point loss to the Black Knights, having already sustained a handy defeat at West Point in mid-January.
The Leopards were on their heels from the very beginning. Sloppy turnovers, a characteristic that is the antithesis of Leopard basketball, were abundant early on. In addition, shots were not falling for Tony Johnson ‘13 and company, a team that usually relies on the three-ball to build momentum. They shot a deplorable 1-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, while scoring only four points off of 10 Army turnovers. Army jumped to a 38-19 lead at the half.
Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon must have done something to inspire his team at the half. The Leopards, who looked listless and tired in the first half, entered the second half with electricity and went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to single digits. The Black Knights, however, who were aggressive the entire game, went on a 10-0 run of their own. Lafayette lost all sense of momentum, and despite some small sparks here and there, went down by as much as 31.
Army’s defense was tenacious and tormented O’Hanlon’s squad for the entire game. They only forced eight turnovers, but flustered the Lafayette shooters, who couldn’t find good looks on a consistent basis and missed shots when they did find them. Lafayette rebounded from their poor first half to shoot 47.2 percent (17-36) from the floor, but still ended the game shooting 39.1 percent (25-64). On the other side of the court, Army shot a blistering 13-24 (54.2 percent) from beyond the arc over the course of the game, four of those misses coming on their last four attempts.
Army was led in scoring by freshman Kyle Wilson, who put up 24. Ella Ellis ‘13 also dropped 20, and Kyle Toth ‘16 scored four three pointers en route to scoring 14. The Leopards were led by senior Tony Johnson with 18.
It was a disheartening loss for a team looking to build momentum going into this Saturday’s contest against 1st-place Bucknell.
“We got off to a poor start,” O’Hanlon said. “You have to credit their defense, they played terrific defense. They were making shots, and we were losing them in transition. They were finding the open man and we weren’t.”
“Forget the halftime score,” Army head coach Zach Spiker said. “You’re playing a coach who…does as good a job as anybody as getting open shots. I think our pressure may have forced them to take them a little bit quicker, but they were still open, and they missed open shots.”
Lafayette was missing an inside presence the entire game. Sophomore forward Dan Trist, a player that Spiker calls “one of, if not the best power forward in the Patriot League,” suffered his second sprained ankle of the season early in the week. It’s an injury that has plagued Trist all season, and O’Hanlon does not expect him to be back for “two to three weeks.” In Wednesday’s game, Army outrebounded Lafayette 43-25. Trist averages 3.9 rebounds per game, second on the team behind Seth Hinrichs ‘15.
Wednesday’s game was what both Spiker and Johnson described as a “mirror image” of their 77-54 loss on January 12. Army utilized a similar aggressive strategy to fluster the Leopards. Both games have been the only instances that Lafayette have allowed over 68 points to a Patriot League opponent.
“We knew what they were going to do, what their gameplan was,” Johnson said. “They really pressure the full court. I think we did a little bit of a better job than the first time we played. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t hit shots early on and that led to easy breaks.”
The loss erases all memories of a convincing 70-47 victory at Navy, which was their fourth win in five games, and Lafayette also loses ground in the Patriot League standings. They now stand three games back in the table.
The Leopards stay at home this Saturday to take on the league-leading Bison, then travel to Worcester to take on Holy Cross on February 20.