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Saint Joseph's Hawks vs. Lafayette Leopards - 12/3/19 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Game
Lafayette Leopards at Saint Joseph's Hawks
Date & Time Tuesday December 3, 2019, 7:00 PM (EST)
Location
Hagan Arena
Philadelphia, Pa.
The Line
Saint Joseph's -4; Total 155
TV Channel
ESPN+
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The Saint Joseph’s Hawks (2-6) will look to break a five-game losing streak when they welcome the Lafayette Leopards (4-2) into Philadelphia for Tuesday’s game at Hagan Arena. The Hawks opened the season at 2-1 but has stumbled to the 2-6 record ever since.

The Hawks probably aren’t nearly as bad as the record indicates, though. Saint Joseph’s has had an awful time shooting the ball this season and it ranks 329th out of 350 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams in field goal percentage at just 38.1 percent from the field on the season. With that number alone, it’s a surprise that the Hawks have a win at all. Saint Joseph’s shot 41.9 percent from the field in an 86-81 season-opening win over Bradley, then shot a season-best 45.7 percent overall in a 96-87 win over UConn. But Saint Joseph’s has shot below 40 percent from the field in all its other games except for one, which was a 71-69 loss to Missouri State in which the Hawks shot 43.1 percent.

Considering that Saint Joseph’s lost to Florida by eight, Missouri State by two, and even Towson by 12 and Old Dominion by 13, a stronger night shooting might be the difference in winning and losing. Junior Ryan Daly is part of the issue in this matter. Daly is the team’s leading scorer at 20.4 points per game, good enough for 36th in Division I, but he is shooting just 39.9 percent from the field while taking 148 shots on the season. Those 148 shots account for 28.7 percent of all of the Hawks’ shots on the season. For someone taking that many shots, he needs to make more to be effective.

While Daly hit 57.9 percent of his shots against Missouri State in the 71-69 loss, he also made 2-of-14 shots in the loss against Old Dominion (14.3 percent), 4-of-13 shots in the loss to Loyola-Chicago (30.8 percent), and most recently 6-of-16 shots in the 16-point loss to St. Francis (PA). 

In that loss to St. Francis, Saint Joseph’s fell behind 37-28 at the half and tied the game with 8:12 to go on a Daly 3-pointer, but St. Francis outscored the Hawks 19-5 the rest of the way shooting 1-for-12 from the field in the final 8:12 to lose by 16. Daly scored 23 points with seven rebounds, while junior Lorenzo Edwards adding 14 in the loss. no other players scored in double figures as the three starters other than Daly and Edwards each shot 2-of-9 from the field. The Hawks’ bench scored just eight points on 4-of-14 shooting.

After Daly’s 20.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, freshman Rahmir Moore is the only other Hawk to average scoring in double figures with 10.4 points per game.

For the Leopards to win, they will need to overcome some history. This will be the 42nd meeting between the two teams and Saint Joseph’s has won 10 in a row and the Hawks are 18-1 in games played in Philadelphia. But Lafayette is coming in on a two-game win streak and three of its four wins have come against Ivy League schools with a 65-63 win over Columbia, a 72-65 victory over Princeton, and an 86-75 rout over Pennsylvania. Only one team that Lafayette has defeated has a winning record (Pennsylvania at 5-3). 

Lafayette’s loss to undefeated Delaware by just eight points was impressive, however, and the Leopards closed the game to five points with just 2:39 remaining in the game, but they couldn’t get closer.

Lafayette is coming off of an 80-75 win over Fairleigh Dickinson with junior Justin Jaworski leading the way with 27 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. Senior Myles Cherry came off the bench to score 15 points with 10 rebounds in just 25 minutes, while sophomore Tyrone Perry scored 12 points and E.J. Stephens added 11 points in the win. The Hawks shot 50.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded Fairleigh Dickinson 35-23.

Jaworski leads the Leopards with 19.5 points per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3-point range, and Cherry adds 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Stephens is the only other Leopard to average in double figures with 12.0 points per game. Five of Lafayette’s six top scorers shoot at 50 percent or better on the season with Stephens connecting on 46.6 percent of his shots on the year. In fact, Lafayette is the 11th-best shooting team in Division I at 50.8 percent as a team.

If for no other reason, the pick here is Lafayette plus the points simply because St. Joseph’s is one of the worst shooting teams in the country and it isn’t like the Hawks have been playing Virginia and Ohio State. But considering Lafayette is one of the best shooting teams in the country puts it over the top. If you need more reasons, though, consider that St. Joseph’s is just 2-6 against the spread this season while Lafayette is the best in the Patriot League against the spread at 4-2. 

Take the Leopards to cover in this long-time rivalry.

Pick:
Lafayette +4

Kevin Eubanks has been covering sports in one facet or another for nearly three decades. His award-winning writing has been read the world over whether he was covering Liga MX soccer, Lakers basketball, or the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, working media relations for multiple universities, or just covering high school sports or little league baseball. In short, Eubanks has done it all. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge with the world on Sports Chat Place.

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