Second Half Droughts Doom Raiders

Twenty-six to one.

That was the most telling statistic in Wednesday night’s Patriot League match-up between Colgate and Holy Cross in Worcester. The Crusaders converted 23 Raider turnovers into 26 easy points in turning a close game into a 60-42 rout. Colgate, meanwhile, managed to score only one point following a Holy Cross miscue in the second half.

This was a winnable basketball game for Colgate, which, for the first time during its current five-game losing streak, managed to put together a full 40 minutes of solid post play. Colgate’s big men led the Raiders to an early lead as Holy Cross seemed unable to prevent the Raiders from operating in the low post.

Junior Simon Knight turned in a team-high and career-high nine points from the center and power forward spots. Knight shot 4-of-8 from the floor in a career-best 27 minutes. Senior center Marc Daniels also produced in the post, scoring eight points, including a thunderous dunk over two Holy Cross defenders to give the Raiders an 18-11 lead with 7:07 remaining in the first half.

“We got great play from Simon Knight and Marc Daniels, who both had their best games of the year,” Raider head coach Emmett Davis said.

Colgate’s big men also prevented Holy Cross from establishing any inside presence, scoring and passing almost at will around Crusader center Tim Clifford, who was limited to two points and three rebounds. The presence of Knight and Daniels, along with that of sophomore forward Kyle Chones – who led the Raiders with five rebounds – showed, as Colgate out-rebounded Holy Cross, 35-28.

On this night, however, it was Colgate’s deep backcourt that saw itself badly outplayed.

“Our guard play was sub-par. [Junior] Jon Simon, [senior] Alvin Reed and [sophomore] Kyle Roemer had 13 turnovers and two assists,” Davis said. “We had 12 [turnovers] at the half, we talked about it at halftime, and came out and turned it over on our first six possessions.”

It was during this stretch that Holy Cross took over. It turned a slim 26-23 halftime lead into a 36-23 advantage with 16:42 to play. “We handed them the game in the first four minutes of the second half,” Davis said.

He went on to attribute some of Colgate’s turnovers to Holy Cross’s defenders, one of whom, Kevin Hamilton, picked off seven passes to become the all-time Holy Cross and Patriot League steals leader.

Hamilton led all scorers with 24 points, while Crusader guard Keith Simmons scored 11 and led both teams with seven rebounds.

This five-game losing skid comes on the heels of a difficult winter break for the Raiders. Colgate closed the first semester with an even .500 record, but has dropped eight of 10 since December 17. Despite performing well in splitting a pair of games with Georgetown and Mississippi Valley State at the Sun Bowl Tournament, and starting off the Patriot League season with a strong victory over Army, Colgate was inconsistent at best during its losing streak. Improved backcourt play will be key in turning this 1-5 league mark into a high seed in the Patriot League Tournament.

Davis, obviously disappointed with the effort of his team, particularly his guards, remained optimistic.

“We’ve played three games in a row against the three best teams in the league [Lehigh, Bucknell, and Holy Cross], two of them on the road,” he said. “We just have to keep our heads up and be ready for Saturday.”

Colgate returns to action tomorrow at 1:30 pm at Cotterell Court against the Army Black Knights, a team it defeated by a score of 71-58 in West Point on January 7.