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Lafayette outlasts Navy on the road, 74-65

01/31/2015, 9:40pm EST
By Mitchell Northam

Mitchell Northam (@primetimemitch)

In a mid-season match-up with the Navy Midshipmen at Alumni Hall along the Chesapeake Bay, the Lafayette Leopards’ men’s’ basketball team knew that the Mids’ would be a tough out after losing to them by four points just four weeks prior.

But on that night the Midshipmen were able to stop Leopards’ senior forward Dan Trist and held him to just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. On Saturday night the opposite was true - Trist refused to be stopped and totaled 23 points as the Leopards beat the Midshipmen 74-65.

The game was back-and-forth, and up until the final whistle neither team led by more than eight points, as the lead exchanged hands six times.

“Obviously it was a hard fought game like every game in the Patriot League,” Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “I thought we did a good job defensively in the second half. (Trist) did a good job scoring around the basket and we made the plays when we had to.”

Trist – the 6-foot-9 big man from Australia - was unstoppable for the Leopards (13-8, 5-5 PL) tonight against the Midshipmen (8-13, 4-6 PL) and in addition to his scoring efforts added eight rebounds and a pair of assists.

Prior to this game, the Midshipmen took an extra step in practice to stop Trist but were still unable to halt the Aussie from dominating them.

“We worked two days on post defense and it was like we never talked about it tonight,” Mids’ head coach Ed DeChellis said. “That’s the frustrating thing I think. We did post drills for two days to try and keep the ball out of (Trist’s) hands.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think (Trist) is a very good player and he has developed a 12 to 15 foot jump shot. I think he is a very strong kid in there but he caught the ball anytime he wanted to in there and I don’t think our perimeter guys helped out our post guys either. He had a field day. He was very good tonight.”

The Mids’ had no answer for Trist’s scoring skills whether it be trying to defend his jumper, his moves in the post or his drives to the basket but late in the second half after Lafayette had taken a seven-point lead, Trist then applied his skills to the glass to help retain the lead and seal the victory. In the first half he had just one rebound in addition to his 15 points, but with a lead late he knew he had to keep the Mids off the glass and grabbed seven boards in the final minutes.

“We ran some different sets that had me (out of the paint) a little bit so I had more of a run-up, which was nice,” Trist said. “But our defense was pretty bad in the first half so there weren’t a lot of opportunities in the first half, so it was a little easier to grab those in the second half. It was just a different half.”

Leading up to that moment, the Leopards had fallen behind by four points and with Worth Smith scoring at will for the Mids, it seemed like they had the game in hand, or at least an upper hand on the Leopards.

“We were resilient,” O’Hanlon said. “We got down but then we got right back in it. (Trist) made a bucket right at that time and we got another stop. That was a huge part of the game.”

Behind Trist and Doylestown, Pa. native Nick Lindner’s scoring the Leopards were able to go on a 12-1 run to take a seven-point lead that seemed commanding considering how close the game had been.

Still, with a minute left the Midshipmen fought and a lay-up from Tillman Dunbar closed the gap to just a single possession. It was just the second basket that the Mids’ scored in the final nine minutes.

“You’re not going to win many games like that,” DeChellis said. “We had some open shots that didn’t go, we had some bad turnovers, we had some poor execution offensively and when that happens you don’t score any baskets.”

After a few more misses the Mids had to resort to intentional fouls. Then after a few makes from the charity stripe, Lafayette walked away victorious.

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