EASTON, Pa. - In a game that came right down to the final buzzer, the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team fell to Lafayette, 79-76, Saturday at the Kirby Sports Center. Penn’s Tony Hicks had a good look at a three-point shot from the top of the circle that would have tied the game, but after rattling the rim a few times it fell out as the buzzer went off.
Penn fell to 2-4 with the loss, while Lafayette -- a hard-luck team this season with an overtime loss at Princeton and a loss at the buzzer to Yale earlier this week -- won for the first time and improved to 1-5 overall.
Amazingly, in a game that was never separated by more than six points in the final 13 minutes, there was just one lead change in the second half. That occurred when Seth Hinrichs drained a three-pointer to punctuate an 11-0 run that turned a nine-point Quakers lead into a 58-56 Leopards advantage.
Fran Dougherty, who was Penn’s leading scorer with 26 points, hit two free throws to briefly quell the run, but Lafayette got a layup from Nathaniel Musters and then another trey from Joey Ptasinski to go up, 63-58. At that point, the Leopards’ run was 16-2.
Penn hung around, starting with a pair of Hicks three-pointers (the latter after Tony Bagtas minimized a Hicks miss with an immediate steal off the Lafayette rebound). Another Bagtas defensive play got the ball in Hicks’ hands with a chance to tie, but he missed a jumper and then Ptasinski hit a pair of free throws to put Lafayette up 68-64.
Miles Jackson-Cartwright hit a jumper to make it 68-66, but with 3:43 Hinrichs drained yet another trey -- he had six in the game en route to 28 points – and that made the score 71-66. Julian Harrell got it back within a possession with a jumper, and then after a defensive stop Jackson-Cartwright drove into traffic and was fouled. He made both shots, and the score was 71-70 with 2:54 to play.
Lafayette’s next two possessions were the killers. With the shot clock winding down on the first one, an errant pass out top landed in Ptasinski’s hands and he of course knocked down a three as the shot clock hit one second. Following a Henry Brooks miss, Lafayette again worked the clock down and this time Alan Flannigan drained a dagger shot from just inside the line on the right baseline. That made the score 76-70 with 1:29 to play.
Out of a Penn timeout, Jamal Lewis missed a three-pointer, but Darien Nelson-Henry got the rebound and the ball was worked around the Lewis. This time he went for three points the old-fashioned way, hitting a shot at the rim while being fouled. After his free throw went down, the score was 76-73.
Lewis then looked like he might force Lafayette’s Nick Lindner into a five-second call out top, but instead the refs waited until the first bit of contact was initiated by Lindner and called Lewis for a foul. Lindner hit both shots, and it was 78-73.
Dougherty capped off his stellar offensive performance with a three-pointer, and then off the inbounds the Quakers fouled Ptasinski. He missed the first and made the second, setting up Hicks’ final effort.
Dougherty also had nine rebounds on Saturday, nearly giving him his first double-double of the season. Hicks ended the game with 16 points, while Nelson-Henry had eight points and eight rebounds. Jackson-Cartwright scored nine points.
For Lafayette, Ptasinski finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Lindner scored 12 and Bryce Scott had 11. The Leopards made 12 three-point shots in the game, and eight of their 13 field goals in the second half came from beyond the arc.
Penn is back in action on Wednesday night, traveling to Villanova to face the Wildcats in its next Big 5 game of 2013-14. Wednesday’s game will tip off at 8 p.m., and will be televised live on Fox Sports 1.
Game Notes: Penn is now 40-7 all-time against Lafayette, but has lost two in a row and four of the last seven to the Leopards … Penn shot 14 of 15 at the foul line, a season-best .938 percentage, and tied a season best with six three-point baskets … Penn shot better than 50 percent for the second straight game; the Quakers were a combined 62-of-117 (53.0 percent) against Niagara and Lafayette … Penn fell to 13-11 in games decided by three or fewer points in the Jerome Allen coaching era (3-3 in one-point games; 6-6 in two-point games; 4-2 in three-point games) … Penn lost for the first time this season when leading at the half. (The Quakers were up 38-37 at the break) … After not doing so in any of its first four games, Penn outrebounded its opponent for the second straight contest … Senior Fran Dougherty scored 26 points, his season high and five shy of the career high he put up last year against Fairfield … Through the first six games, four different players have led Penn in scoring. (Dougherty, Jackson-Cartwright, Hicks, Nelson-Henry) … Dougherty also had nine rebounds, leaving him one board short of his fifth career double-double … Sophomore Tony Hicks scored 16 points; he is the only Penn player to score in double figures in each of the Quakers’ first six games this season … Hicks hit four three-pointers, a season high and one shy of his career best … Sophomore Darien Nelson-Henry tied a career high with three assists, and added eight points and eight rebounds ... Senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright set a season best with five rebounds … Senior Steve Rennard scored his first points of the season, on a pair of free throws.