Raider Hoops Suffer From Second-Half Declines

Matt Oja

The Colgate men’s basketball team dropped a pair of games this week to fall into a sixth-place tie with Navy in the Patriot League standings. The Raiders, 7-15 overall and 2-7 in league play, lost home games to Bucknell and Lafayette.

In both contests, Colgate dominated its opponent for long stretches before succumbing to a flurry of poor shots and bad turnovers. Against Lafayette, Colgate attacked inside early and often. Colgate opened the game on an 8-0 run, including easy dunks by senior center Marc Daniels and sophomore forward Kyle Chones. The Raiders pushed the lead to nine after 3:30 of play.

Lafayette fought back, closing the deficit to a single basket when forward Andrei Capusan’s jumper made the score 18-15, but the Raiders continued their strong inside play. The Raiders led, 34-28, at the half, thanks to 57.1 percent shooting from the field. Daniels, surpassed his career-high in points in 15 minutes of first-half action. In addition to his 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting, Daniels grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots. For the half, Colgate scored 24 points in the paint.

The second half started out as well for Lafayette as the first half did for Colgate. The Leopards jumped all over the suddenly sluggish Raiders, going on a 9-0 run to take a 37-34 lead with 17:18 to play. Forward Everest Schmidt keyed the Lafayette rally with six quick points as Colgate’s interior defense completely disappeared.

Colgate, however, was unfazed by the Lafayette run. Although Lafayette had found a way to contain Daniels – who managed only two points and two rebounds after he was forced to change out of his bloodied #55 jersey with 1:18 remaining in the first half – a host of Raiders contributed to a 14-2 run that put Colgate on top, 48-39, at the 7:28 mark.

On this night, however, the Raiders’ inconsistencies got the better of them. Colgate followed up its run with a 4:28 scoreless streak that saw Lafayette score 13 points and create the game’s final lead change. This stretch saw the Raiders plagued by many of the same problems that they had encountered in previous losses. In the game’s last seven minutes, Colgate missed several lay-ups and free throws that would have put them in a position to win the game. Additionally, no Colgate player was able to free up sophomore guard Kyle Roemer, the tenth ranked scorer in the Patriot League. In a close league contest, Colgate’s leading scorer should get a touch every possession. On Wednesday, Roemer was held to one second half point as Lafayette did its best to deny him the ball.

Even with its long dry spell, Colgate found itself in a winnable game with three minutes to play. A pair of free throws by junior guard Jon Simon cut the deficit to two, 52-50. Still unable to find its offense, however, Colgate sputtered down the stretch as Lafayette closed on an 11-5 run, winning by a score of 63-55.

“We missed a bunch of shots down the stretch,” Colgate Head coach Emmett Davis said. “I was proud of how we came back; we had a nine-point lead. They went to a run-and-jump kind of game … and I didn’t think we executed too well on offense [down the stretch].”

Daniels finished with his first career double-double, scoring a career-high 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing a career-best 10 rebounds in the losing effort. Capusan led all scorers with 18 points for the Leopards.

In last weekend’s game, Colgate opened up a big lead against first-place Bucknell before falling to the Bison by a score of 68-59. The Raiders led, 34-20, early in the second half before a 20-4 Bison run put Bucknell on top for good. Roemer led all scorers with 19 points. while Charles Lee scored 13 for the Bison, who are now 19-3 and 10-0 in league play.

“To let the crowd get into it, that’s not good,” Lee said of the big Cotterell Court crowd and its effect on Bucknell’s offense in the first half. “We were just running through our sets, not coming off screens, not getting people [open] shots. In the second half, we did a great job adjusting.”

Davis agreed, noting that Colgate’s “intensity level for the first 20 minutes was tremendous.” But according to the Raider head coach, “In the second half [Bucknell] raised its level and we didn’t answer.”

The Raiders will hit the road for a pair of games this week . Colgate opens its trip in Washington on Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. game with American. The game will be televised nationally on CSTV, with noted author John Feinstein providing color commentary.