Men’s Basketball Falls during its Texas Two Step

Paul Kasabian

The Colgate men’s basketball team took a halftime lead into the locker room of both of its Texas games last week, but the Raiders fell apart each game in the second half and lost both prongs of its two-game Texas road trip by double digits.

On Tuesday, December 30 against TCU (10-5), Colgate led by as many as six in the first half, but a 19-percent shooting effort in the second half doomed the Raiders in a 62-37 loss against the Horned Frogs (9-5). Three days later, the Raiders were winning by ten points late in the first half against the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners (8-4), but once again, Colgate faltered down the stretch and lost 76-66.

Against TCU, junior forward Ben Jonson scored Colgate’s first five points on a layup and a three-point play. The Raiders were able to sustain a lead thanks to four three-pointers in the first half en route to a 27-26 halftime lead. But all the momentum that Colgate had going into the locker room was quickly washed away by TCU forward Kevin Langford.

After senior forward Alex Woodhouse blocked Zvonko Buljan’s shot on the first possession of the second half, Langford corralled the ball and put it into the hoop as he was fouled by freshman point guard Anthony Hill. Langford missed the free throw attempt, but he somehow managed to grab his own rebound and take it to the basket. He was fouled on the way up and Langford knocked down both free throws, giving TCU a 30-27 lead.

From there, the Horned Frogs used this monstrous momentum swing and converted in into defensive intensity. The Raiders made only four field goals in the second half and were outscored 36-10. Furthermore, Jonson was the only Colgate player to score in the first 13 minutes of the second half, scoring four points in that stretch. Woodhouse scored all six of his points in the last six minutes. No other Colgate player besides Woodhouse and Jonson scored in the last 21 minutes of the game.

Langford scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for TCU, and guard Ronnie Moss chipped in 18 points. Jonson, who is Colgate’s early season MVP for giving a consistent performance day-in and day-out, scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Woodhouse had six rebounds to go with his six points, but no other Colgate player had more than four points.

The first half of the UT-SA contest was the Willie Morse show, as fans were treated to 12 points from the State College, PA product in the first 14 minutes of play. A jumper giving Morse is 11th and 12th points also gave Colgate a 26-16 lead, which quickly evaporated as the Roadrunners cut the deficit to 34-32 before halftime, thanks in part to forward Travis Gabbidon, who scored seven points on a three-pointer and four free throws in the last 1:14 of the half.

In the second half, Roadrunner guard Omar Johnson buffered a 17-4 run by scoring eight of his 19 points via two three-pointers and two free throws, turning a 44-40 score to 52-40 in a blink of an eye.

The Raiders would not quit, however, thanks to some help from the bench from an unlikely source. Freshman forward Nick Pascale came into the game just before the under-eight media timeout and immediately made his presence known on offense and defense. Pascale blocked two Roadrunner shots and grabbed his deflection both times for defensive rebounds. Furthermore, the Jamesville-DeWitt product made a three-point play, making the score 63-60 with 5:17 left. But UT-SA scored seven straight points to effectively put the game out of reach.

The main difference in this game was UT-SA’s ability to get to the charity stripe, as the Roadrunners made 22 of 28 foul shots. Furthermore, the turnover bug hurt ‘Gate again, as the Raiders committed 17 on the night.

For Colgate, Morse had 15 points, Jonson chipped in 13 for the second straight game and Venezia scored 10. Gabbidon led four UT-SA players in double digits by dropping in 20 points. He also had a perfect night from the free throw line, going 10-for-10.

Needing at least a little bit of momentum before Patriot League play starts on Saturday, Colgate bounced back and beat winless North Carolina Central, 68-58 in Durham, North Carolina on Tuesday, January 6. Despite playing only 21 minutes due to foul trouble, Jonson once again led the troops with 18 points and eight rebounds. He scored 11 of his 18 points in the first nine minutes of the game, but he picked up his second foul at the midway point of the half and was forced to sit until halftime. Up 20-15 when Jonson hit the bench, Colgate managed to stretch its lead to nine points (32-23) right before halftime, as Pascale made another great contribution to the team off the bench with five points in the latter part of the first half. The Raiders as a team shot 61 percent from the field in the first half, while NC Central missed 21 of its 30 shots.

In the second half, Colgate jumped out to a 15-point advantage after Hill made a fast break layup with 14:19 left in the second half, but the Raiders went on an incredible cold streak that NCCU took advantage of. Over the next nine minutes of play, Colgate made only three field goals. On the other end of the court, NCCU guard Brian Ayala was heating up, scoring eight of his 13 points during that nine-minute stretch. With Colgate’s lead down to five, it was time for the Raiders to step up their game. Three consecutive layups helped the Raiders end their offensive slump, but the contest was far from over. NCCU cut the lead to six points with 2:05 left in the game, leading to a crucial Colgate possession. Once again, Jonson came through for ‘Gate, putting in a clutch layup. After NCCU failed to score on its following possession, Colgate sealed the win.

Aside from Jonson, Woodhouse (11) and Gyawu (10) were the other two Colgate scorers in double digits. Hill had a very solid game for ‘Gate, scoring six points, dishing five assists, grabbing five boards and making three steals. Guard Jamar Briscoe scored 15 for NCCU, and Ayala pitched in 13 points. NC Central is now 0-17 on the season.

Colgate had its best offensive output of the season on this night, setting year-high marks in points and field goal percentage (56 percent). However, the Raiders also turned the ball over 16 times, or roughly one out of every four times they had the ball against NCCU.

The Raiders will now go to West Point and play Army on Saturday in the Patriot League opener. Last season, Colgate defeated Army in the season opener at home, 50-44, but the Raider lost 59-57 in OT at West Point later in the season.