Patriot League Championship game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network tonight, March 13, at 7:30 p.m.
A 28-for-30 effort at the free throw line propelled No. 2 Lafayette to an 82-69 victory over third-seeded Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament semifinal in front of a sold out Kirby Sports Center crowd Saturday afternoon.
Tony Johnson led four Lafayette players in double figures with 24 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, while Seth Hinrichs poured in 18, Dan Trist scored 13, and Bryce Scott netted 12 on a 10-of-10 effort at the line. Led by Johnson’s eight boards, Lafayette held a plus-ten margin on the glass (35-25) and improved to 11-2 on the year when outrebounding its opponents.
Lafayette moves on to the Patriot League Championship game against No. 1 seed Bucknell, while Lehigh ends its season with a 21-9 overall mark. The win improved the Leopards to 19-14 overall and completed a three-game sweep of Lehigh.
Ticket information for the Patriot League Championship game against Bucknell can be found here.
Lehigh opened the game with a quick 7-0 spurt, but Lafayette (19-14) got things going with a layup by Trist and battled back to tie the score at 13 on Trist’s foul line jumper. From there, Lafayette scored five of the next six on a tough move inside by Trist and a Johnson corner three to complete an 11-1 run and put Lafayette up 18-14 as Lehigh called timeout at 9:28.
Lafayette started the half 0-for-5 from the field, but then drained 11 of its next 12 shots to take a 26-17 lead after a mini 8-0 run. The spurt included a layup by Johnson, a three by Joey Ptasinski (nine points), and a left-handed driving layup by Hinrichs plus a foul.
Following a transition layup from Alan Flannigan from a long bounce pass by Johnson, Lafayette took its largest lead of the half on a Ptasinski triple after Flannigan kept the possession alive with an offensive rebound. At that point, the Leopards held a 31-21 lead before Lehigh scored the next five on a trey by Corey Schaefer and a fast break layup by Gabe Knutson. The Mountain Hawks finished the period on a 12-4 run and went into the break trailing 35-33 as each team shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Lehigh finished the run at 14-4 and tied the score at 35-35 when Holden Greiner (16 points) scooped up a loose ball in the lane and converted the layup. Seven straight from the Leopards made it 42-35 after Johnson set up Hinrichs for three on the break and then Trist underneath for two.
Lehigh quickly pulled within two, but Lafayette came back with seven in a row, punctuated by a wide open Ptasinski trey to force another Lehigh timeout less than five minutes in. After the stoppage, the Leopards added three more when Ptasinski made the extra pass into the corner for a wide open trifecta by Johnson to put Lafayette up 52-40.
Two free throws by B.J. Bailey interrupted the 10-0 spurt, but Lafayette scored the next four to take its largest lead to that point, 56-42. Two Johnson freebies pushed the cushion to 60-44 with 11 minutes to play. Four straight from Bailey, a layup by Mackey McKnight (22 points), a three from Greiner, and a layup by Schaefer made up an 11-2 run as Lehigh cut the deficit to seven (62-55) with eight minutes remaining.
Bryce Scott hit two at the line and an empty trip by Lehigh preceded two offensive rebounds before Levi Giese knocked in two at the stripe to make it 66-55. The Mountain Hawks inched closer with the next six points on a three by Stefan Cvrkalj and McKnight’s three-point play to cut it to five with 5:35 left.
The Leopards added their next six on free throws by Trist, Johnson, and Scott, while McKnight and Knutson each hit twice for Lehigh and Lafayette led 72-65 with 3:50 on the clock. McKnight and Scott traded makes at the line prior to Knutson sinking one of two with 1:50 left.
With Lafayette leading 74-68, Johnson made his way into the paint and slipped a pass inside for Trist, who pumped and went up for two. After a Lehigh timeout, Knutson made one at the line prior to Hinrichs getting fouled and draining two to put Lafayette ahead 78-69 with 46 seconds left.
A turnover by McKnight ended all hope for Lehigh on the other end as Scott added two at the stripe and two more by Johnson completed the 82-69 victory.
- Lafayette improved to 8-0 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament at Kirby Sports Center.
- The Leopards are 14-3 at home this season.
- The last time Lafayette made at least 28 free throws was Feb. 8, 2012, when it went 31 of 37 against Army.
- Former Lafayette basketball players Brian Ehlers ’00 and Ted Detmer ’08 were in attendance at the game.