Inconsistency Plagues Men’s Hoops Yet Again

Matt Oja

The men’s basketball team dropped two more games this week, pushing its most recent losing streak to four games. Losses to American and Lehigh leave the Raiders with an 8-17 record and a 2-9 mark in the Patriot League.

Last Sunday, in a nationally-televised contest, Colgate gave American all it could handle for over 28 minutes. As has been the case with several Colgate efforts of late, however, the last few minutes of the game proved troublesome.

Colgate put together a solid first half against the Eagles, settling down after American’s opening 10-2 run and taking a 27-26 lead with 4:18 to play in the half. American fought back to lead by five, 37-32, at the break, thanks to 11 points from preseason all-League guard Andre Ingram.

The Raiders benefited from a balanced scoring effort in the opening 20 minutes, with seniors Marc Daniels and Alvin Reed and sophomore forward Kendall Chones each scoring six points.

The beginning of the second half looked to be more of the same. American scored first, on a lay-up by Derrick Mercer, to push its lead to seven, but it would grow no larger than that for the next 10 minutes. Quick jumpers by junior guard Jon Simon and sophomore forward Kyle Chones trimmed the Colgate deficit to three, 39-36, with 17:35 to go.

While Ingram got his points, Colgate continued to score over American’s tight man-to-man defense, creeping to within a single point when sophomore Kyle Roemer’s three-pointer made the score 48-47 at the 11:24 mark.

Colgate’s defense seemed to lose focus at this point, though, as the under-12:00 media timeout gave American a chance to recompose itself. Colgate went scoreless for the next three minutes as American big men Paulius Joneliunas and Brayden Billbe scored six consecutive points.

As the Raider defense faltered, its offense fell back into familiar patterns of poor shot selection and careless ball-handling. Colgate shot 6-for-18 from the field during the last 11:24 of the game, turning the ball over four times during this stretch. American, meanwhile, protected the ball and made its free throws, pulling away for a 72-64 victory.

Ingram led all scorers with 19 points, while Joneliunas was the game’s leading rebounder with eight boards. Reed led Colgate with 14 points; he also had six assists and only one turnover. Roemer and Kendall Chones added a dozen apiece for the Raiders, while Simon scored 11. Daniels continued his strong all-around play with six points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot.

In Bethlehem, PA on Wednesday night, Lehigh handed Colgate a 67-58 defeat. The Raiders saw more of the same, as they were able to hang with the second-place Mountain Hawks for much of the game before falling apart late.

Colgate jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead in this game, as Simon scored eight of his game-high 20 during the early run. Predictably, Lehigh rediscovered its offense and came back. Colgate, though, was still able to find the basket and trailed only by a single point at the half.

Lehigh took control of the game after the break, however, ripping off 12 consecutive points to take a decisive lead. This was all the Mountain Hawks would need. Colgate was able to keep the game close with its 12 made three-pointers, cutting its deficit to five with just under four minutes to play, but was unable to get over the hump against a veteran Lehigh bunch.

In addition to Simon’s game-high 20, Kyle Roemer scored 14 for the Raiders. Guard Jose Olivero led Lehigh with 15 points. Colgate will seek to snap its losing-streak tomorrow against Navy at Cotterell Court.