Men’s Basketball Trounces Army; Suffers Disappointing Loss to Lafayette

Paul Kasabian

The Colgate men’s basketball team needs to accomplish three tasks during Patriot League play in order to have a successful conference run. First and foremost, Colgate needs to cut down on the turnovers. Second, the team needs to play lock-down defense while cleaning up the glass. Finally, a top-notch scorer needs to step up and replace the void left by offensive ace Kyle Roemer, who is currently at home recuperating from a torn ACL injury which he will be back from next season.

In the first two Patriot League contests, Colgate performed these duties with mixed results, which produced a 1-1 conference record to start the year. The Raiders smashed Army (0-2 PL) in West Point, 64-42 to start the season before falling to Lafayette, 69-62 in Easton, PA.

Against Army on Saturday, January 10, freshman forward Yaw Gyawu scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in just 19 minutes, leading Colgate to the dominant 22-point win. The game started off with both teams having great offensive success, as they combined to miss just three shots in the first five minutes of play. Colgate took an early 16-12 lead thanks to four 3-pointers in that early frame. However, Army’s early offensive prowess turned out to be just smoke and mirrors, as their scoring futility prevailed throughout the rest of the game, finishing the contest shooting just 27 percent overall. Colgate took advantage of Army’s cold streak and continued to score at will. The Raiders used their defense to create offense at the end of the half, as two steals led to two fast-break lay-ups, the latter one giving Colgate a 37-22 lead going into halftime.

Then, Colgate slowed down the tempo on offense and milked the clock. Surprisingly, Army let the Raiders control the tempo of the game and did not press in order to try to force turnovers. Colgate stretched its lead to as many as 25 points in the second half by taking control of the paint area and scoring in bunches, while Army shot an abysmal 22 percent from the field in the second half.

For Colgate, sophomore shooting guard Mike Venezia was the only other Colgate player in double figures with 10 points. Led by senior Alex Woodhouse and freshman Nick Pascale down low, who each had seven boards, the Raiders out-rebounded Army, 43-28 on a day where they simply dominated the defensive glass. Army was led by Julian Simmons with 13 points.

Colgate did everything perfectly on this day, except for taking care of the ball. The Raiders committed 16 turnovers-a good number of them from bad passes-and coughed up the ball on 26.1% of their possessions. This was Colgate’s third-highest turnover percentage of the season.

The Raiders stormed into Lafayette (1-1 PL) on Wednesday, January 14, looking to start 2-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since 1999, but it was not meant to be on this night. Colgate shot an anemic 13-for-25 from the free throw line, while Lafayette was able to take advantage of its charity stripe shots at a 24-for-29 clip.

The first half of the game featured 11 ties and 8 lead changes, as neither team was able to pull away. With just five seconds left in the half, Lafayette guard Nick Petkovich knocked down a three-pointer to give the Leopards a 34-29 lead going into halftime. Lafayette freshman forward Ryan Willen had nine of his 14 points to lead his team in the first half, while Nick Pascale had nine points and two rebounds in just seven first-half minutes of play.

At the beginning of the second half, Willen gave Lafayette its biggest lead of the game at eight points when he drained a three-pointer. After some back and forth action, Lafayette’s lead was at eight points with around 14 minutes to go before Colgate dashed on an 11-0 run to give itself a 46-43 lead. The run was powered by Jonson, who scored consecutive buckets during this stretch, and senior wingman Willie Morse, who knocked down a three-pointer. However, the Raiders committed three turnovers in a short time span, allowing Lafayette to fight back and erase the deficit. With the game tied at 50, Lafayette guard Andrew Brown, who was having a cold-shooting night at this point, knocked down a three-pointer to give his team the lead for good with 6:10 left. Venezia responded with a 2-point jumper, but Brown counter attacked with another 2-point field goal.

However, the most critical juncture in the second half occurred when Colgate sophomore point guard Joe Hoban stole the ball and passed it off to Gyawu, who coasted to a ferocious dunk with 1:17 left in the half. Fouled in the process, Gywau went to the line with a chance to cut the deficit to two points at 61-59, but his attempt clanked off the rim. On the rebound attempt, Woodhouse fouled Lafayette forward Jared Mintz. This was a double whammy of sorts, as Woodhouse not only fouled out, but Mintz went to the line for a one-an-one. He knocked down both free throws, making it a two-possession game. With 29 seconds left, Venezia hit a three-pointer to make the score 65-62. Colgate was forced to foul with the shot clock turned off, and Andrew Brown went to the line and made two free throws. Three-point attempts from Venezia and Hoban missed the mark on the next possession, effectively ending any chance of a Colgate comeback.

Gyawu scored 15 points yet again, and Jonson was the other Raider in double digits with 10 points. Woodhouse and Pascale each had nine, and the former player led ‘Gate on the boards with six. Willen (14), Brown (13) and Mintz (12) led the offensive onslaught for the Leopards.

The Raiders committed an unacceptable 19 turnovers and missed 12 free throws, more or less shooting themselves in the foot during a very winnable game. However, Colgate still has a knack of stopping the opposing team’s three-point shooters, as the Raiders held the long-distance marksmen of Lafayette to just 5-of-22 shooting from outside the arc.