Three Thoughts: Lafayette 63, Boston University 62

Lafayette and Boston University each entered Saturday with top-50 offenses and bottom-50 defenses, promising lots of points for their meeting at Agganis Arena. Though the score wasn’t high, thanks to a slow pace and some missed shots, the game was predictably decided by who had the ball last. Reserve guard Zach Rufer’s layup with two seconds left gave the Leopards a 63-62 win, ending their two-game skid and handing BU its first conference loss.

Center Dan Trist led the Leopards with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Center Dan Trist led the Leopards with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

The Terriers were ahead for most of the game, but the lead changed hands four times in the final three minutes. With the hosts trailing 61-60, leading scorer Cedric Hankerson crossed over to his left, darted into the paint and tossed a layup; it bounced off the rim, but center Justin Alston tipped it back in with nine seconds to play. After a timeout, the Leopards’ Seth Hinrichs pushed upcourt and found Rufer in the left corner; the junior drove baseline for a lightly contested, game-winning basket.

Eric Fanning caught a dangerous inbounds pass in the frontcourt, but he was tied up by Bryce Scott and could not get off a shot. Though the Terriers called for a foul, those were in short supply Saturday (just 22 were called, including three intentional, in a physical game).

“We just wanted to spread them out and try to make a play. There wasn’t anything specific we were going to do,” Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “We tried to get it to [point guard] Nick [Lindner], they denied that. We got it to Seth, who made a good play to Rufer, and he made the layup.”

Three other thoughts from the Leopards’ exciting win:

1. Lafayette beat Boston U. from inside the arc. The Terriers’ three-point defense hasn’t been very stingy this season, but they held the nation’s top-shooting team to 5-20 from beyond the arc. BU coach Joe Jones constantly yelled for players to stay near the Leopards’ outside threats — particularly 55% shooter Joey Ptasinski, who didn’t take a shot in the first half — and BU switched liberally on the perimeter. That led to some mismatches (such as 5’9” guard Cameron Curry fronting 6’8” Seth Hinrichs, or Alston marking shooters), but it forced Lafayette to beat the hosts from inside the arc.

After a slow start, the Leopards were up to the task. Center Dan Trist scored on three straight possessions from two-man sets with Lindner, popping for one jumper and rolling past Blaise Mbargorba for two layups, the last of which gave Lafayette its first lead at 57-56. Trist scored 24 points on 12-16 shooting, including 10 straight for the Leopards before Rufer’s game-winner. (Lindner finished with 10 assists, half of which went to Trist.)

“They were doing a lot of switching 1-thru-4. We talked before the game for me to set a lot of screens, because my man wasn’t switching out as much, so that gave us more of a comfortable look,” Trist said. “Nick made a lot of good passes and some good plays, and we managed to score out of them.”

2. Cheddi Mosely slowed the Leopards’ comeback. It looked like Lafayette would take its first lead much earlier, after Ptasinski’s first three-pointer cut BU’s lead to 38-37 at the 16-minute mark. But Mosely saved the reeling Terriers. He drove for a layup, then sprinted back and blocked a Monty Boykins shot at the other basket six seconds later. The rookie also collected two contested rebounds and capped a 7-0 run with a catch-and-shoot three, giving the hosts some breathing room. Mosely, who has started all but three games as a freshman, finished with 13 points on eight shots.

3. The Patriot League is still weird. Navy opened the day with a road win at Army, improving to 3-1 while dropping the Black Knights to 1-3. Loyola beat Lehigh on the road, while Holy Cross earned its first league win in overtime. After American beat Colgate in overtime, all 10 Patriot League teams now have at least one win and one loss after just four games. With that kind of parity, every team could be in the Patriot League race deep into the season.