It’s one thing for a team to take over a game with a streak of hot shooting. But when Lafayette got on a roll in the early stages of each half Tuesday night, that pretty much put St. Joseph’s into a deep hole from which it never recovered.
The Leopards went on a 33-11 run in the first half to take a 23-point lead, and after the Hawks cut into the deficit to make it a game, the visitors made 10 of their first 12 shots in the second half to reestablish control in a 94-71 victory at Hagan Arena, the Hawks’ sixth straight defeat.
St. Joseph’s (2-7) gave its fans something to cheer about by scoring the last 16 points of the first half to cut what had been a 49-26 deficit to seven points at the break. But the Leopards (5-2) recovered to stretch the advantage out further and further.
From a 62-54 advantage, Lafayette scored the next 13 points to get its margin up to 21, 78-56, with 9 minutes, 11 seconds to play. With the Hawks making only 8-of-29 (27.6%) after halftime, they just couldn’t keep up.
Playing again without Taylor Funk, who has a hand injury and is out indefinitely, the Hawks once more depended on redshirt junior Ryan Daly for scoring. Daly scored 25 points to go with 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but he had just eight points in the second half.
Daly got assistance from Cameron Brown with 13 points and Lorenzo Edwards with 12. Daly and Edwards combined for nine points in the 16-0 run that ended the half, but the Hawks couldn’t sustain that success.
The Leopards were led by Justin Jaworski with 31 points. The 6-foot-2 junior guard from Perkiomen Valley High went 5-of-10 from three-point range and 10-of-17 overall.
Lafayette -- whose coach, Philadelphia native and Villanova grad Fran O’Hanlon, is in his 25th season of leading the team -- shot 54.8 percent in each half and knocked down 14 of its 28 three-point attempts.
“You have to get out on the three,” Hawks coach Billy Lange said. “When we were able to do that for a couple of periods of time, we were actually able to hang in. Then it’s just a few mistakes and it’s over. They’re a great shooting team. You can’t make a mistake. We went three possessions of zone, and three times they hit threes. They bury you on any missed connection.”
St. Joseph’s is a young team, and usually one of the last things a young team gets better at is communicating defensively. The Leopards, with three seniors and three juniors among their first eight players, consistently found the holes in the defense.
The Hawks did show five minutes of excellent two-way basketball at the end of the first half, contesting shots better, rebounding effectively, moving the ball better. They need to do it more consistently for longer stretches, but it’s good film to study.
The Hawks begin Big 5 play Saturday at home against No. 23 Villanova.