Second half lead slips away in home opener

The score tied with just under four minutes remaining, Robert Morris University used a late run to propel itself past Lafayette 90-81.

It was the home opener for Lafayette (0-2) in the newly renovated Kirby Sports Center, which featured an energy and excitement not often seen in November home games.

Back and forth throughout, the score was tied at 75 with 3:52 remaining. From there, it was all RMU. The Colonials scored 15 of the next 21 points to seal the victory.

“I thought we played a really good 32-33 minutes of basketball,” Head Coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “At the end, we had a couple of key turnovers… a couple quick shots. We didn’t contain them well in the last seven to eight minutes.”

Lafayette led 64-55 near the ten-minute mark in the second half. That lead was in large part due to junior guard Joey Ptasinski, who scored eight straight points including two 3-pointers.

“Sometimes teams when you get up, you get a little bit too happy,” O’Hanlon said in reference to the late run by RMU. “I thought we did that.”

Two Leopards set career highs tonight. Sophomore guard Bryce Scott finished with 25 points and six rebounds to set new marks. Forward Dan Trist ’15 pulled down 12 rebounds. His previous best was eight. It helped Lafayette win the rebounding battle 38-33.

The additional 25 pounds Trist put on in the offseason was a contributing factor to the career high performance.

“It was something I wanted to focus on,” Trist said. “That was one of my goals for the summer.”

Trist was active early and often throughout the first half, leading Lafayette with 14 points and eight rebounds. He was quiet in the second half though, adding four points to finish with a total of 18.

“[RMU was] playing with a smaller lineup,” O’Hanlon said. “At the end of the day we probably could have gone inside a little bit more.”

Lafayette utilized different defenses against RMU throughout the game, but nothing seemed to slow down the 3-point shooting, whether it was the man-to-man, 2-3 or 1-3-1 zone. The Colonials finished 11 of 24 from beyond the arc (45.8%), many of which came in critical points in the game.

Turnovers plagued Lafayette tonight as the Leopards totaled 13. Starting freshman guard Nick Linder ’17 had five.

“He’s two games into his college career,” O’Hanlon said. “He did some good things and he did some things he’s going to learn from. Nick thinks he can play better and I know he can play better.”

Five Lafayette players – Trist, Linder, Scott, Ptasinski, and co-captain Seth Hinrichs ’15 – were on the court for more than 25 minutes. RMU had only one player in for more than 25 minutes.

“I think we may have been a little bit tired,” O’Hanlon said. “Hopefully we can continue to develop that as we go further.”

Lafayette now has eight days before its next game against Princeton University on November 20.

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