Men’s Basketball Loses to Harvard and Maine Before Beating Monmouth

The Colgate men’s basketball machine is sputtering right now, having lost six of its first nine games to start the season. Offensive rebounding is a key issue, as is finding a solid rotation. Both of these issues, as well as others, need to be cleared up before Patriot League play, but Colgate has enough athleticism and talent on the floor to correct their early-season deficiencies in time for when the real season starts.

On Saturday, December 6, Harvard rolled into Hamilton and defeated Colgate, 67-64 thanks to Crimson forward Jeremy Lin, who accrued 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

“I think in every game we’ve played this year there’s been one player who’s been a very prolific scoring wing, and I think [Lin] played the best of any of the guys that we’ve faced,” Head Coach Emmett Davis said. “He was outstanding. The game comes easy to him. He took over defensively at one point…every time they got a big bucket, he was there to make it.”

Lin scored five of his points in a game-opening 15-4 run, and Harvard power forward Keith Wright scored all six of his points in that stretch as well. Colgate countered the run with three straight baskets and was able to keep with the faster pace that Harvard wanted to play on this night. The Crimson led 32-27 at halftime.

In the second half, junior power forward Ben Jonson kept Colgate close by scoring all six of his points in the first four minutes of the second half. However, back-to-back turnovers from Colgate point guard Joe Hoban led to two Lin lay-ups. Lin was fouled on both occasions and knocked down both free throws to give Harvard a 42-33 lead, but a 11-2 Colgate run that was capped off by a three-pointer from Mike Venezia tied the game at 44. The two teams traded baskets on each of their next two possessions before Harvard guard Oliver McNally knocked down a jumper from the wing to give Harvard the lead for good. Colgate cut the lead to one on five different occasions after the McNally jumper, but Harvard countered with key defensive stops and clutch buckets, the biggest shot coming with 1:18 left in the game when guard Max Kenyi hit a corner three-pointer, giving the Crimson a 65-61 advantage. After that possession, senior guard Willie Morse drove through the lane and made a floating lay-up as he was fouled by point guard Drew Housman. Morse made the free throw, leading to the biggest possession of the game. Housman missed a lay-up, leading to an absolute frenzy below the basket to control the ball. Eventually, Keith Wright won the battle and passed the ball back out of the key. With the shot clock turned off, Colgate was forced to foul Housman, who calmly made two free throws, giving the Raiders a chance to tie the game. Point guard Anthony Hill had a decent look with an NBA range three from beyond the top of the key, but the ball rimmed out, ending the game. For Harvard, Kenyi was the only other player besides Lin in double digits with 11 points. Senior power forward Alex Woodhouse dominated the paint on this day, scoring 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Freshman forward Yaw Gyawu led all Colgate scorers with 17 points, getting most of his buckets playing as a 6’4″ power forward, getting the ball at the top of the key and making his moves from there. Harvard has now beaten Colgate in five straight games.

Two nights later, the Raiders traveled the University of Maine to play the Black Bears in Orono, Maine, where Colgate lost its sixth straight game, 67-56. Woodhouse knocked down a jumper to give Colgate an early 13-11 lead, but Maine took charge and went on a 24-2 run before Colgate knocked scored four points to close the half. During the run, Colgate went 1-11 from the field and missed two free throws. The Black Bears led 35-19 going into the intermission.

“In the beginning of the game, we attacked their zone very effectively… then they went man-to-man and we just didn’t do a good job of taking care of the basketball or executing,” Coach Davis said. “The problem that I see right now in these games is that we’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding when another team makes a run. We can’t give up 18-2 runs or 20-0 runs, and we’ve got to be able to score. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome (big runs).”

However, thanks to some great rebounding, three-point shooting and some of that energy that Coach Davis spoke of, the Raiders were able to mount a ferocious comeback. After Maine shooting guard Mark Socoby hit a three to start the half, Colgate went on a 23-6 run to close the gap to two points with just under nine minutes remaining.

“At halftime, the guys made up their mind that they we were going play harder and do a better job executing,” Coach Davis said.

Unfortunately, Socoby was just too much to handle on this night. After point guard Joe Hoban made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points again with 6:33 left, Socoby out-scored Colgate, 7-2 over the next two-and-a-half minutes. A Jonson jumper cut the lead to five points, but Maine guard Gerald McLemore hit a three-pointer that Colgate could not counter. Maine made its free throws to seal the win.

“[Socoby] made some tough shots and he got going early with penetration,” Coach Davis said. “He’s got a terrific shot fake and good size at 6’6″. [From] game to game, each team has a (great) wing, and we got to do a better job of shutting these guys down. (Former Colgate small forward) Tim Pounds used to lock down these guys, and were going to have to do it by committee.”

Mark Socoby scored 21 points to lead Maine, while guard Junior Bernal scored 17 points off the bench. Jonson led the Colgate effort on this day, getting the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jonson is quickly establishing himself as the most improved player on the Colgate roster. Woodhouse was held to just two points on this day, but he was also under the weather.

“For two years, [Jonson] has played against Kendall Chones in practice every day, and he’s gotten better,” Coach Davis said. “He’s worked really hard, and now he’s gotten opportunities to play more minutes. He has worked hard on his shot, but his value for us is his ability to screen people and play great defense on the interior, and he’s continued to impress me in those areas. He’s got to keep rebounding and being aggressive, and offensively he’s coming along.”

The team traveled to the Jersey Shore to play Monmouth in its last game before Finals Week. For the second time this season, a Colgate player hit a buzzer-beating shot to beat a NEC team on the road. It was Venezia against CCSU the first time, but last night it was Ben Jonson hitting a 15-foot jumper from the elbow to give Colgate a 54-53 win.

Although Monmouth was 1-10 coming into the game, the Hawks held a 26-15 lead late in the second half. Colgate scored six straight points before Alex Nunner hit a three-pointer right before the first half buzzer, giving Monmouth a 29-21 lead.

Not to be deterred by the momentum-changing three, Colgate came out guns a-blazing in the second half, going on a 12-1 run. Woodhouse and Venezia each scored four points during the stretch. However, the unfortunate common theme that permeates Colgate men’s basketball sometimes, turnovers, began to destroy the Raider chances. Four ‘Gate turnovers on the next five possessions turned a three-point advantage into a seven-point deficit in the blink of an eye. However, ‘Gate was able to rebound and make some two-point jumpers to crawl back within one point, 48-47, with 2:49 left in the game. Nunner then hit a two-point field goal before Venezia hit a dagger three that bounced in, out and back in again to tie the game at 50. Not to be deterred, guard R.J. Rutledge came right back with a three of his own. Venezia found a cutting Woodhouse on the next possession, and he slammed it home, making the score, 53-52. With the shot clock turned off at this point, Colgate was forced to foul center Dutch Gaitley. He missed both free throws, and Colgate charged down the floor, but Davis called a timeout with 10 seconds left. After the timeout, Jonson found himself with the ball at the top of the key but lost possession of it for a moment. However, he calmly got the ball back and nailed the jumper to seal the win. Jonson scored 11 points in just 19 minutes, as his time was shortened due to foul trouble. Venezia scored 16 points, and Woodhouse had 10 points and eight boards for the Raiders. For Monmouth, Travis Taylor had 11 points, and Nunner and Will Campbell had 10 apiece. All three of these players started on the bench for Monmouth.

Colgate will now continue its brutal eight-game road trip by going to Berkeley, California to play Cal-Berkeley on Monday, December 22.