WORCESTER, Mass. – Lafayette guard Tony Johnson hit a three-point field goal with 3.5 seconds left in the second half, to break a 76-76 tie and give the Leopards a 79-76 victory over the Holy Cross men's basketball team at the Hart Center. Johnson's shot gave Lafayette its only lead of the game, as the Leoaprds rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to earn the win. The Crusaders fall to 11-15 overall and 3-8 in the Patriot League with the loss, while Lafayette improves to 14-14 on the season and 7-4 in the conference.
Holy Cross hit a season-best 67.4 percent of its field goal attempts (29 of 43) and 56.3 percent of its shots from three-point range (nine of 16) on the night. But the Crusaders also committed 20 turnovers and gave up 10 offensive rebounds to the Leopards, which resulted in Lafayette taking 59 field goal attempts on the night to only 43 for Holy Cross.
The Crusaders started the game hot, hitting their first three shots to claim an early 8-0 lead. Holy Cross would eventually extend its lead to 12 points (21-9) with 14:51 left in the first half, before the Leopards responded with a 10-2 spurt to trim the margin down to four points (23-19). The Crusaders would later lead by three (36-33), when they used a 9-1 spurt to go back up by 11 points (45-34). But Lafayette would close out the half with a 5-0 run of its own to make the score 45-39 heading into the locker room.
The Holy Cross lead would stand at four points (51-47) early in the second half, before a 9-0 run gave the Crusaders their largest lead of the night (60-47) with 14:22 left to play. The Leopards refused to go away, using a 12-2 spurt a few minutes later to get back into the game. Lafayette eventually tied up the score at 67-67 with 5:50 remaining, but Holy Cross fought back to take a 76-70 lead with 1:38 on the clock following a put back by senior center Phil Beans (Toledo, Ohio). The Leopards would then tie up the score once again with a three-point play from Johnson and a three-point field goal by Seth Hinrichs. Johnson then hit the game-winning three-pointer, and the Crusaders were unable to get another shot off in the closing seconds.
Sophomore guard Justin Burrell (Dumfries, Va.) led Holy Cross with 19 points, six assists and two steals, while freshman guard Cullen Hamilton (Washington, D.C.) added a career-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Johnson finished with 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals to lead Lafayette.
The Crusaders return to action on Sunday, Feb. 24, when they travel to Bucknell for a 12:00 p.m. game.