RU Downs Lafayette 90-79

Were we watching Rutgers or the old ABA? At courtside, was that Fred Hill or was it Tom Young? Rutgers took to the air last night and won a hard fought battle over Lafayette 90-79.

First, the Lafayette Leopards are a very good basketball team. They ran the motion offense almost to perfection. They were fast and they were disciplined. Excellent passers. Their game plan was to run a zone and deny any kind of an inside game for the Scarlet Knights, and it worked. The Lafayette players and coaches did their finest impression of the movie “Hoosiers”.

Through the first ten minutes of the game, Rutgers seemed surprised by the speed of Lafayette and their fearless attack from the low post. Lafayette’s tough zone collapsed on Hamady N’Daiye early and often forcing him to commit 3 quick fouls. What a show it turned out to be. Rutgers took what Lafayette gave them and responded with 33 points from the 3 point range. Rutgers hit an astounding 44% from beyond the arc on 11-25 shooting, while Lafayette came up with 30 points from the cheap seats by hitting 43.5% on 10-23 shooting.

Playing them pretty tight throughout the first half, Rutgers found themselves clinging to a 3 point lead of 41-39 at the break.

Rutgers held an 8-5 edge in three pointers during the first half and JR Inman and the Rutgers guards needed to continue their onslaught for the remainder of the game. JR was certainly the star of the game coming up with 26 points, 9 rebounds and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, but the tenacity of Anthony Farmer, Mike Coburn and Corey Chandler sealed the deal. The three guards combined for 48 points in the game and were 10-12 with their free throws. They each played about 75% of the game and played a relentless man on defense.

Some of the final statistics were eerily similar:

Rutgers hit 46.2% on FG’s, 44% on the 3’s and 90.5% from the free throw line. RU - 36 rebounds, 15 offense, 21 defense.

Lafayette hit 45.3% on FG’s, 43.5% on the 3’s and 84.6% from the free throw line. LAF – 36 rebounds, 15 offense, 21 defense.

The biggest difference in this game had Rutgers outscoring Lafayette by 8 points from the free throw line, while outshooting a team that lives and dies by the long shot, holding a 3 point edge.

Coach Hill seemed pleased with how his team responded, and felt that Lafayette was one of the best teams he’s seen run the motion offense in ten years. He thought Lafayette attacked well and could flat out run. Although they may not have appeared very athletic at first look, they were quick down the court and it showed why they average 79 points per game, exactly what they scored last night. “By the grace of God we scored 90, and I’m going to have to check the box score a few times to be certain there were no mistakes”. Although Lafayette made 3 long shots in the final three minutes of the second half, he was ecstatic that his guys held them to just 2 long shots in the first 17 minutes of the half. “This was a team that loves the 3 point shot, and by slowing them down made all the difference”. Lafayette normally shoots 50/50 from the field and from beyond the arc, but last night only about 25% of their shots were from long range. Coach was very pleased with the decision making on the night, whether it was taking the open shot or driving the lane.

Rutgers now stands at 6-2, with only a disappointing loss to St Peters to mar their progress. The team is growing, the team is showing flashes of brilliance, but the bulk of the schedule still lies ahead, including North Carolina and the Big East. It will be interesting to see how these young kids respond. Coach Hill says “stick with us for a couple of years, we’ll get there”.

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