The Raiders opened their season with an exciting 63-60 victory over the Monmouth Hawks on Friday night and then dominated Canisius on Tuesday, 61-47. This marks the first time in ten years that the Raiders have opened their season with consecutive wins.
In the first game, Colgate jumped out to a 31-20 lead with three minutes left, but Monmouth scored ten unanswered points to end the half, The Hawks than opened the second frame with another strong five-minute run, outscoring the Raiders, 12-5 for a game-changing 22-5 run over eight minutes of play. With that stretch, Monmouth jumped out to a 48-39 lead. However the Raider began a run to regain control. Led by junior guard and captain Kyle Roemer’s seven points in just over three minutes, Colgate stormed back into the game. The Raiders would tie the contest on a lay-up from senior center Peter Minchella with seven minutes left, and on its next possession, Colgate took the lead for good when senior guard Daniel Waddy hit a three to put the Raiders up 54-51 with five minutes remaining. However, the game would remain close. The Hawks clawed back to cut the deficit to one at 61-60 when Jhamar Youngblood hit a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left. Colgate than inbounded the ball into junior guard Willie Morse, who stepped out of bounds as he tried to elude a Monmouth defender. Fortunately, Youngblood missed a jumper to win the game. Morse grabbed the next inbound and was immediately fouled. With ice water in his veins, he calmly sank both free throws to put Colgate up three with four ticks left. Monmouth couldn’t get a good shot off to try and tie the game, and the Raider victory became official.
Colgate had four players with 11 or more points in its opener. Roemer and Morse had 15 points each, Waddy chipped in 12 and senior forward Kendall Chones added 11 points.
“We try to push the basketball and [Monmouth’s] press [in the first game] actually slowed us down,” Davis said. “The keys were that we were able to rebound and stay out of foul trouble. We made more free throws than they attempted and we had a good balance of scoring with four guys in double figures.”
In its second game of the season, Colgate dominated from the start by jumping out to a 38-16 lead at the half. Canisius actually outscored the Raiders in the second half 31-23, but it was not nearly enough to overcome the 22-point halftime deficit. The Raiders have now won 17 of its 19 games against the Golden Griffins in Buffalo.
Roemer led the way with 16 points, and junior swingman Tim Pounds scored a career-high 12 points. Waddy (10 points) had his second game with double-digit points and Chones added seven to go along with seven boards. Junior forward Alex Woodhouse filled up the box score by notching eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in 22 minutes of play.
A lively crowd spurred the Raiders on during the home game, and Davis attributed it a poster competition sponsored by ALANA. He also pointed out that it helps the team when more people come to the games. This is especially true at Cotterell, where the stands are basically on top of the court.
“There were pockets of really good fans from the poster competition, and if we can get some more people it will be really good [for the Raiders].”
Starting Friday night, the Raiders will participate in the Kennesaw State Tournament in Kennesaw, Georgia. Colgate will face off against Texas State on the first night and play either the host school or 2007 March Madness participant Jacksonville State on Saturday.
The Raiders’ next home game is Wednesday against Marist at 7 p.m. Dartmouth will come into town three days later for a 1 p.m. game.