For the second straight season, Washington took down Lafayette during the GAC-Suburban Challenge at the St. Charles Family Arena.
Following last season’s 53-50 victory over the Lancers, the Blue Jays pulled the trick in a much more convincing way this season, registering a 59-43 win Saturday night.
“I think we surprised them a little last year. It was an awkward night last year with the game not starting until 11 p.m. Our guys were excited about coming back and playing them again,” said Washington Head Coach Chip Sodemann. “We hit some shots and played a pretty solid defensive game.”
The Blue Jays (5-2) fell behind by scores of 7-1 and 9-4 early in the game, but took control late in the first quarter, which carried over into the final three periods.
“They broke our press pretty easily early in the game and got some buckets, so we called that off and made it a half-court game,” Sodemann said. “Once we got our confidence going after a sluggish start, it was one of our more complete games of the season.”
Ronnie Suggs paced the Blue Jays with 23 points, going 8-10 from the free-throw line. He scored 22 points in last year’s win over Lafayette.
Luke Schroepfer finished the game with 16 points.
Jared Walde pitched in with nine points.
Brad Carpenter scored six points, going 4-5 from the foul line.
Luke Hasenjaeger scored three points. Jacob Mulkey had two points.
Austin Subke, Cory Epperson and Christian Hardesty also saw action.
“Luke (Hasenjaeger) and Jared both hit some big shots from the outside, which really helped. When those things happen, it makes it easier for Luke (Schroepfer) and Ronnie,” Sodemann said. “Luke and Ronnie both did a good job getting shots and knocking them down.”
Garrett Steins led Lafayette (2-4) with 12 points. Evan Scales added eight points.
Nate Messer, who led the Lancers in scoring at 13 points per game entering the contest, was held to four points.
The Lancers, who love to shoot three-pointers, were just 4-23 from long distance against Washington.
“All five of their guards shoot more threes and they do twos. We knew we had to defend the three-point line and did a good job doing it,” Sodemann said. “Our guys off the bench also came in and did a good job executing our game plan.”
Washington knocked down eight three-pointers, four by Schroepfer, three by Suggs and one by Hasenjaeger.
The Blue Jays were 15-19 from the free-throw line. Lafayette was 5-7.
Washington held leads of 15-13 after one quarter and 29-22 at halftime.
The Blue Jays led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, taking a 40-33 advantage into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Blue Jays, who outscored the Lancers, 19-10.
Washington grabbed a 16-point lead, 51-35, with 5:45 left to play, and held on to win by the same margin.
The Blue Jays have won three straight games since a 49-39 loss Dec. 4 at Parkway Central.
“Parkway Central exposed some things that we needed to work on, like focusing on ball-control and working our offense to get good shots,” Sodemann said. “Our defense has been pretty good over these last three games. We’ve done a good job holding down the score of the other teams.”
Washington played Tuesday at home against Pacific and takes on Lindbergh at the Sullivan Shootout Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The Blue Jays are seeded fourth for the Meramec Holiday Tournament, opening against 13th-seeded McCluer Dec. 26 at 4 p.m.
“We have a tough stretch over the next couple of weeks,” Sodemann said. “Pacific will be an emotional game with a great crowd. Lindbergh is a well-coached team that will be very competitive. Then we go to Meramec and play McCluer in the first round and either Marquette or Vianney in the second game. We’ll find out a lot about where we are as a team over the next couple of weeks.”