Just three days after AU head coach Jeff Jones said his team needed “more energy and more of a competitive spirit” following their second straight home loss, the men’s basketball team rode a wave of hot shooting and defeated Patriot League leader Lafayette 87-76 Saturday in Easton, Pa.
Needing four three-point shots to break the 21-year-old school record for most three-pointers in a season, junior Garrison Carr sank six of 10 from beyond the arc to set the new school mark. He shot 10-16 from the field overall to lead the Eagles with a career-high 32 points.
Carr’s hot shooting was infectious as the team shot 56 percent from the field and scored a season-high 87 points while weathering 12 Leopard three-point shots. Although junior Bryce Simon was the only other Eagle to reach double-digits in scoring with 12 points, all nine Eagles that saw playing time scored.
Once again, the Eagles built a large halftime lead, going into the break with a 40-30 advantage. However, unlike many earlier games, AU controlled the second half, building the lead to 19 points with less than 14 minutes left in the game.
Lafayette responded with an 11-2 run to cut the lead to eight points, but the Eagles held strong. Juniors Derrick Mercer and Carr answered the run by making baskets on consecutive possessions to reassert the Eagles’ dominance as the Leopards never got closer than nine points thereafter.
The Eagles got key contributions in other areas besides shooting. Junior Cornelio Guibunda tied a career-high with 10 rebounds, including five on the offensive end, as the Eagles outrebounded Lafayette 34-26. Despite only getting eight points from second-leading scorer Derrick Mercer, the team’s offense was still boosted by his game-high six assists.
The win continued a season-long trend in the Patriot League in which no one team has been able to establish themselves as the definitively best team in the conference. The Eagles improved to 4-3 in the conference and 12-10 overall, moving them into a tie for second place, just one game behind Lafayette (5-2, 14-8). Their next game is Wednesday at Holy Cross as they will try to avenge a two-point home loss they suffered on Jan. 26 against the Crusaders.