Nov. 13, 2009
Box Score |
EASTON, Pa. -
Lafayette welcomed the 2009-10 men's basketball season with an 81-72 win over Wagner at Kirby Sports Center. Junior forward Jared Mintz contributed a double-double and three other Leopards scored in the double digits in the season opener.
Mintz led the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his third career double-double. Senior Jeff Kari finished with 14 points and sophomores Ryan Willen and Jim Mower added 15 and 12, respectively.
Lafayette lead for nearly 15 minutes in the first half, but Wagner's Tyler Murray drained a three-pointer with one second left on the clock to make it 33-32, Wagner, at halftime. The Leopards' free throw shooting kept them in the mix early, connecting on 12-of-15 for 80 percent in the first half.
Wagner came out of the locker room and led by as many as 10 points on two different occasions. The Leopards' cut the lead to one three times and finally managed to tie the game with 2:48 left on a free throw by Darion Benbow. Benbow's second free throw gave Lafayette a lead it would not relinquish, as Lafayette put together a 12-2 run to close out the game, surrendering a lone bucket by Ryan Conrad with 36 seconds left in the game with Lafayette leading by five. Conrad finished with 20 points.
Four different players scored in the decisive run, including a crucial layup by freshman Tony Johnson that made it a two-possession game at 75-70 with 1:23 left. Johnson played 18 minutes in his collegiate debut and finished with six points and a team-best three steals.
Lafayette's put the game away with eight free throws, including four by Kari in the final 33 seconds. Lafayette shot 84 percent from the line and also dominated Wagner on the glass, 47-32. Lafayette had 19 offensive rebounds and each player who saw time for the Leopards accounted for at least one rebound.
The Leopards were without three-year starter Michael Gruner for much of the game and all of the second half after he left with an injured eye.
Lafayette hits the road for a three-game streak, travelling to Sacred Heart on Sunday at for a 4 p.m. tip-off. Games at St. Francis (Pa.) and NJIT follow on Thursday and Saturday.