Monkey off the back

Photos courtesy of Athletic Communications

Fifteen times prior to Wednesday night, Lafayette has traveled to Lewisburg, Pa. along I-80 East. Past the open land, the farms and the quaint town of Lewisburg to Sojka Pavilion. And 15 straight times, Lafayette has traveled back to Easton empty handed, victims of yet another loss to Bucknell at its home arena.

Wednesday though, the script was flipped. Lafayette won its second straight league game and its first ever game at Sojka Pavilion, 66-58.

“It feels like we got the monkey off our back,” forward Seth Hinrichs ‘15 said.

“We definitely thought of that going in,” forward Dan Trist ‘15 explained. “It’s a tough place to play… they usually get a great crowd and good home court advantage.”

Wins against Bucknell on Wednesday and Navy on Saturday halted nine straight league losses and 11 straight overall. Now, with seven league contests remaining, including one against Boston University tomorrow, Lafayette has ample time to turn its season around and enter the league tournament as the team on the rise.

Injuries have plagued Lafayette all season. Only guards Joey Ptasinski ’15 and Nick Linder ’17 have played in every game this season. Six players, including four starters, have missed at least one game due to injury. Most notable of all was Hinrichs, who missed ten of those 11 straight losses with a left knee injury.

Head coach Fran O’Hanlon used his twelfth starting lineup combination on Wednesday.

“Not using this as an excuse, but we have been unfortunate with injuries this year,” Trist said. “It was disruptive a bit in the first part of the league. But the second half of the league is a whole new season.”

“We see ourselves at 2-0 right now.”

Hinrichs led the Leopards on Wednesday with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his third career double-double. Trist added 14 points and freshman Monty Boykins scored a career-high 13 points.

“The offense was working great [on Wednesday],” Boykins said. “People were sinking in on Dan in the post and he passed it out to the perimeter. My points tonight are a credit to my teammates.”

Boykins suffered a torn ACL in December of his senior season of high school.

“The ACL is getting better everyday,” Boykins said. “I had to get into the flow of the game. It took a lot. Right now I’m on a roll.”

On Saturday in front of its home crowd, Lafayette registered a 25-2 run in the second half to pull away and outscore Navy 35-20 in the final 20 minutes. Ptasinski had four 3-pointers in the stretch and scored 22 points overall. Trist and Linder added 17 and 13 points, respectively.

Ptasinski suffered a head injury against Bucknell, but it does not appear to be serious.

In both league victories, Lafayette has significantly improved its rebounding and defense. The Leopards held Bucknell to 34.5% from the field and Navy to 34.0% from the field. They outrebounded Bucknell 37-35 and Navy 32-23.

Up next for O’Hanlon and Lafayette is Boston University (16-8, 9-2). Lafayette trailed the Terriers by three points at halftime of the previous meeting on January 11, but allowed 52 points in the second half and 89 overall to lose 89-78.

Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. tomorrow.

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