Raiders Trap Leopards; Advance to PL Semis Against Bucknell

Paul Kasabian

The Navy Midshipmen sailed into Hamilton, New York ready to sink the men’s basketball team’s battleship in the last game of the regular season last Saturday afternoon on Senior Day. A Colgate win and a Bucknell loss would give Colgate its highest seeding in the tournament since 2003, when the Raiders went 9-5 in the Patriot League and finished third. Although Navy sported three guards that averaged 13 points or more, including senior and Patriot League Player of the Year Greg Sprink, Colgate bore down and beat Navy, 73-62 for the seventh straight time dating back to 2004. The Raiders started the game on the right foot thanks to Patriot League Player of the Week and senior Kendall Chones. He made a tough three-point play to open the scoring in helping ‘Gate jump out to a 12-9 lead. Unfortunately, from that point on, the Raiders fell asleep at the wheel for most of the first half. Navy sophomore point guard Chris Harris torched Colgate with sharp outside shooting, and his fellow guards penetrated the paint and scored at will. The Raiders’ interior defense and rebounding at these moments were porous or nonexistent, with a ferocious Mark Veazey put-back dunk off a Kaleo Kina miss solidifying these notions. Although Colgate was down 32-22 late in the first half, the Raiders scored five straight points to cut the deficit in half. However, were in not for Chones’ eleven points and five boards in the first half, the Raiders may have never had a chance to regain the lead later in the game.

“[Chones] is really playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Head Coach Emmett Davis said. “He’s strong, got good footwork and he’s got good touch around the basket.”

Maybe Colgate drank some of Michael’s Secret Stuff from the movie Space Jam at halftime, because the Raiders played lights-out for the rest of the game. Senior guard/forward Tim Pounds performed a lost art by knocking down four mid-range jumpers and a lay-up in the first six minutes of the second half. Pounds’ play as of late has been one of the reasons why Colgate has won its last four games.

“[Pounds] was able to get in there and do some things on Senior Day, and he really did a great job,” CoachDavis said.

Chones continued to do the dirty work down low, scoring 12 points and grabbing six boards in the second half. Junior point guard Trevaron Vinson’s steady play at point guard and on the defensive end also provided a spark for Colgate. These factors and more contributed to Colgate’s 18-5 run to start the half, and despite the continued scoring production from Navy’s Big Three, the Raiders held on for the win down the stretch thanks to five free throws from captain and junior guard Kyle Roemer. Navy amassed a whopping 20 offensive rebounds(11 more than Colgate) and 46 boards overall, but Kendall Chones and Colgate’s bench depth overrode those stats and led the team to the win. Chones scored 23 points and grabbed 12 boards, while Pounds and Roemer scored 12 apiece. First-year Mike Venezia scored nine points, and junior forward Alex Woodhouse scored seven points and grabbed seven caroms. On the opposite end, Sprink(19 points), Harris(14 points) and Kaleo Kina(17 points) combined for 50 of Navy’s 62 poins. However, the three players shot only 36% from the field during the game.

The win over Navy and Army’s 54-51 win over Bucknell gave the Raiders the third seed in the Patriot League tournament and a date with sixth-seeded Lafayette in the first round of the Patriot League tournament last night in Hamilton. Behind Roemer’s career-high 32 points, Colgate won 76-74 and advanced to the Patriot League semifinals for the first time in eight years. Colgate controlled the pace of the game in the beginning and jumped out to a 10-4 lead thanks to some great offensive rebounding from Woodhouse and senior center Peter Minchella, negating any chances for the Leopards to get second chances. Unfortunately, the trigger=happy Leopards, who are known to look for the three-pointer every time they run down the court, starting to connect from the outside. A 22-11 Leopards run occurred thanks to four made three-pointers and some timely lay-ups. However, the resilient Raiders went on a 17-5 run to end the half up,38-31. A key moment at the end of the half occurred when Lafayette Head Coach Fran O’Hanlon got T’d up for jawing with the officials, which led to junior guard Willie Morse knocking down two free throws.

In the second half, Roemer continued to show why he was named to the second-team all Patriot League by pouring in 17 points in the second half. At one point, Roemer scored 10 points between the 10:23 and 8:35 marks of the second half. With 6:31 left in the second half, Colgate had a 74-57 lead and looked like it would coast to victory. But the game was not over. The referees called fouls at every oppourtunity they got in Lafayette’s favor down the stretch. 12 Leopard free throws helped cut the lead down to one with 27 seconds left. Chones received the ball and got immediately fouled. After making one of two charity shots, Lafayette tried to look for a shot, but the Leopards called a time-out instead with 16 second left. With only three ticks left on the clock, Matt Betley took a heart-stopping three-pointer that rimmed out. Woodhouse used his super-long arms to grab the board, and he passed the ball out to Waddy. He threw the ball up in the air, and time ran out. Chones scored 11 points and grabbed six caroms in the win. Lafayette’s Bilal Abdullah led the Leopards’ scorers with 23 points. Colgate will play Bucknell in the Patriot League semifinals on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cotterell Court. Go to the game!