Colgate’s painful Patriot League losses on its home court will not be the only memories taken away from the 2006-07 men’s basketball season. A more positive memory that the Raiders can use as motivation for next season is the way they fought through injuries sustained by star players, most notably junior Kyle Roemer’s pre-season ankle injury that sidelined him for the year. Despite the hardships, the Raiders managed to match preseason expectations and finish fifth in the League, which earned them a trip to Washington D.C. to face the pesky American Eagles on February 28 in the PL Tournament.
Although Colgate played well in the first half, American was too strong down the stretch as they defeated the Raiders 59-44. The first half was a see-saw battle for the most part. The lead changed hands a couple times in the first 14 minutes before American took the lead for good after a Paulius Jonelinias lay-up. A trip to Worcester for a second-round battle with Holy Cross was still plausible for Colgate at halftime as American only led 24-20. However, little-used forward Travis Lay started to dominate the boards and all of the Eagles started to hit shots as American went on a 17-7 run to start the second half. Colgate cut the deficit to eight points with seven minutes remaining, but American’s Arvydas Eitutavicius scored seven of his 15 points down the stretch to put the game out of reach. American star and first-team All-Patriot League member Andre Ingram led all scorers with 16 points, but Lay’s performance remained the most impressive. The 6’5″ junior, who only averaged 3.2 rebounds during the season, turned in a breakout performance, snatching 13 boards that contributed to American’s 41-23 rebounding differential.
“Travis Lay is a scrappy, hard-working type of player,” Assistant Coach Jeremy Ballard said. “He’s kind of like the Dennis Rodman of the team.”
Junior Kendall Chones scored 12 points in just 19 minutes for the Raiders, and senior Jon Simon, who was the Raiders’ offensive catalyst this season, had an off-night and only scored nine points. Junior Kyle Chones led the team in the rebounding department with six boards.
Colgate will lose four seniors to graduation before next season, but the future looks bright for the Raiders. Roemer and Woodhouse will be healthy next season and the Chones brothers each have one more season at Colgate.
“We want to finish at the top of the league (next season),” Ballard encouraged.