Immediate Release: December 7, 2003
EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette (5-1) drained two three-pointers in the final 2:08, and then added five free throws in the final 50 seconds to hold off visiting Binghamton (3-4), 77-72, Sunday afternoon.
The Leopards, picked to finish second in the Patriot League, trailed 65-64 with 3:22 to play before taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws by senior guard Winston Davis (Tampa, Fla.). Davis and senior backcourt mate Justin DeBerry (Tucson, Ariz.) combined for 35 points, including a 21-foot three-pointer that DeBerry nailed with 2:08 left. That long-range jumper boosted Lafayette's lead to 69-65. Just prior to the play, Binghamton recorded its 20th turnover of the game - a five-second call on an inbounds play - and the Leopards capitalized 17 seconds later. Six-foot-eight center Sean Knitter (Philadelphia, Pa.) then deflated the Bearcats with a three of his own with 1:17 remaining. Knitter entered the game having hit just 1-of-11 three-point attempts on the season.
Playing catch-up in the final minute, BU misfired on six straight shots before a last-second three-pointer tightened the final score.
"They are a tremendously talented offensive team that can run circles around you," head coach Al Walker said of the Leopards. "I thought we defended at a very high level."
Junior center Nick Billings (Kodiak, Alaska) scored a game-high and career-high 21 points, and added eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals in an outstanding all-around effort. He dropped in seven consecutive points midway through the second half to keep the Bearcats close, but was then held without a point for the game's final 8:52.
Freshman point guard Troy Hailey (Hyattsville, Md./Montrose Christian) picked up the scoring slack in that span, dropping in five points in 40 seconds to give BU a 65-64 lead with 3:35 to play. But Lafayette sank two free throws to reclaim the lead, and then hit the decisive three-pointers to seal the win. Hailey hit 4-of-7 three-pointers of his own, and added four assists in 27 minutes.
Also scoring in double figures for BU were junior forward Alex Adediran (Covington, Ga./Seward County CC), who had 11 points including nine in the second half, and sophomore forward Sebastian Hermenier (Rockville, Md./The Maret School), who chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Bearcats outrebounded Lafayette, 48-25, but had more than double the Leopards' turnovers (20 to 9). Binghamton is averaging more than 18 turnovers per game this season.
Next up for BU is a daunting away contest, December 13 at reigning NCAA champion Syracuse.
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