The men’s basketball team held off Army 55-53 last Saturday before crushing Lafayette 71-54 last night. Both games were at Cotterell Court.
Against Army, senior center Alex Woodhouse had six blocks, the most crucial one occurring with seven seconds left on a Josh Miller layup that would have tied the game. However, the game should not have been that close.
The Raiders opened up the contest on an 11-2 run in the first eight minutes, as Colgate’s swarming defense prevented Army from getting good looks at the basket. The Raiders continued their hot stretch and took a 31-17 lead into the halftime intermission. First-year forward Yaw Gyawu and sophomore guard Mike Venezia buoyed the ‘Gate offense in the first 20 minutes, with each player scoring eight points.
Army began to cut away at the lead in the second half by quickening the previously slow pace of the game and attacking the basket with fervor, knocking down some layups and baby jumpers. A Cleveland Richard layup cut Colgate’s lead to five with 8:35 remaining, but Army then went into a five-minute scoring drought. Colgate took advantage of Army’s offensive ineptitude and started to build a significant lead again. Woodhouse hit a jumper, and senior swingman Willie Morse turned two consecutive steals into fast-break layups. Josh Miller broke the scoreless streak with two free throws, but junior forward Ben Jonson answered back with a jumper, making the score 51-40 with 2:59 left.
It was at this point where things went horribly wrong.
Richard made a three-pointer from the wing, and Army immediately went into a full-court press. The ball was inbounded to Jonson in the corner, and he was immediately double-teamed. Jonson threw the ball away to a waiting Jeremy Hence, who immediately passed the ball to Richard. Finding himself open, Richard made another three-pointer, and Army continued its full court press. Once again, Jonson found himself with the ball double-teamed in the corner, and once again, he threw the ball away. Richard grabbed the ball and passed it to Miller for a three-point attempt. The ball arced high and splashed in. In a 49-second span, Army scored 9 points to make a 51-40 sleep-inducing contest into a 51-49 heart-stopping, nail-biting affair, waking up a crowd that had been in a coma all game. Colgate used a much-needed timeout to settle itself down.
Woodhouse got fouled and calmly made two free throws, but Hence immediately fired a successful two-point jumper. Woodhouse was fouled again and knocked down two free throws, forcing Army into a must-score situation. A Woodhouse blocked shot of Josh Miller fell into the waiting hands of Jonson, but he stepped out of bounds. Julian Simmons made a layup a short time later. With the shot clock turned off, the Black Knights fouled Morse with 13 seconds left, sending the nominally solid charity stripe shooter to the line. Morse’s attempt, however, went off the side rim, and Army grabbed the board, leading to Woodhouse’s block on Miller. Morse was able to dribble out the clock until there were 1.3 seconds left before getting fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one again, but all Army could do was take a full court shot for the win. Richard’s attempt at this wasn’t awful, but it was a bit too close for comfort.
“We didn’t handle their pressure well,” Coach Davis said. “We turned the ball over, and they scrambled on three opportunities, and we missed some free throws. It wasn’t the way you wanted it to end, but we won.”
For Colgate, Gyawu scored 12 and Venezia pitched in 10. Woodhouse contributed nine points and eight rebounds to go along with his six blocks. Miller scored 18 off the bench for Army, and Richard had 12.
The Lafayette game started with a big scare. With the score tied at two, Woodhouse went up high and slammed down an absolutely ferocious dunk over center Marek Koltun. However, he landed awkwardly on his left leg and went down in pain. After a few tense moments, Woodhouse walked off the court with the help of a trainer. He did not return. The extent of his injury is undetermined.
But the resolve of the Colgate Raiders was evident on this night, as they had their best offensive game of the season. Colgate started the game on a 19-2 run thanks to 10 points from Mike Venezia, who consistently found himself open on this night and knocked down the open jumpers. Venezia finished with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and he made four three-pointers.
“Mike came out with a real aggressive attitude, and any time he makes his first shot, he feels good about himself,” Coach Davis said. “He played a good game overall. I’d like to see him rebounds more on the offensive end, but he controlled the ball really well on this night.”
The Raiders continued to apply the pressure and took a 36-19 lead into halftime. But against Lafayette, a team that can score at will at times, Colgate needed to worry about the Leopards getting quick buckets. However, the defense continued to play tough, and Colgate led by as many as 24 points in the second half.
“Any time you have a big lead like that especially against Lafayette, who’s so explosive, you’re never real comfortable,” Head Coach Emmett Davis said. “Our guys executed well and shot the ball well. When you shoot 59 percent for the game and 42 percent from the three-point line, you’re going to have a good game.”
Gyawu scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, and Jonson dominated the paint in Woodhouse’s absence by scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. First-year Nick Pascale blocked five Leopard shots. Ryan Willen had 16 for Lafayette.
“I was proud of their execution, and the defense was great all night long,” Coach Davis said.
Colgate will now go on a two-game road trip to first-place American and fifth-place Lehigh. The American game is a Saturday matinee, while the Lehigh affair is a Wednesday night contest.