Raiders Destroy Eagles in Huge Win

“Home is where the heart is.” The Raider men’s basketball team might want to change that adage a little bit, to “Home is where the wins are.” After a tough 1-3 road trip, the Raider men returned to the comforts of Cotterell Court last weekend and the team responded with two huge home wins to propel itself into a fourth-place tie in the Patriot League.On Friday night, the Raiders welcomed Navy to Hamilton and held off the persistent Midshipmen, 72-67.The team came out flat in the first half, allowing the Middies to build up an eight-point lead at halftime. The halftime deficit was not a good sign for the Raiders, as the team had come back in the second half only once in its last 10 games. However, the Raiders battled back in the second half to overcome the visitors and secure a hard-fought victory.Colgate went on a 12-3 run to begin the second half, with first-year Kyle Roemer scoring 10 of those points. Roemer, who has made a habit of beginning the second half strong, provided a huge spark to the stagnant Raider offense. After the initial spurt, the Raiders had erased the halftime deficit and had gotten themselves right back into the game.Senior co-captain Andrew Zidar also played very well in the final 20 minutes, scoring eight of his 10 points in the second stanza. Zidar, who is second in the league in rebounding and tied for 10th in scoring, was also the game’s leading rebounder with 13 caroms.The Raiders as a team excelled in the second half, shooting over 55 percent from the floor, but nevertheless could not shake off the Middies. The final tie of the game occurred at the 8:01 mark of the second half, but a three-pointer by junior guard Alvin Reed put the Raiders ahead for good.In the final eight minutes, Colgate scored on all but four of its possessions, keeping the Midshipmen at bay just long enough to take the contest. The Raiders were able to win the game, despite shooting only 48 percent (10-of-21) from the free throw line. Luckily for Colgate, the Middies were not much better, hitting only 16-of-29 attempts (55 percent) from the charity stripe.After the solid performance on Friday evening, the Raiders returned to Cotterell Court on Sunday afternoon and put together their best 40 minutes of basketball of the season. The team dismantled a tired Eagles squad in very efficient fashion, winning by a score of 67-57 that doesn’t nearly reflect the domination of the Raiders. Raimondas Petrauskas scored the opening bucket of the game for the Eagles, but Colgate responded with nine consecutive points and never looked back. The home team built up a lead that grew to 12 points at halftime, 34-22.The second half was all Raiders – even more so than the first half. Despite the fact that the Eagles shot 50 percent in the second stanza, the Raiders blew right by them thanks to sizzling 65 percent shooting. Colgate shot even better from beyond the arc, hitting 67 percent from three-point range in the second half and 63 percent for the game. The three-point shot can be the deciding factor in whether the Raiders win or lose, and in this game it seemed as if every shot from beyond the arc was falling.As a team, the Raiders were able to out-hustle, out-muscle and generally out-play the weary Eagles in the second half. American, coming off important league games against Holy Cross and Bucknell, seemed lifeless in the final 20 minutes, causing head coach Jeff Jones to empty his bench and give his reserves some playing time. The reserves actually gave the Raiders a better fight than the starters did – American scored the final 12 points of the game to make the final score somewhat respectable. But by the time the reserves came in, Colgate had built up an insurmountable lead.Reed led the way for Colgate with 17 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc. Zidar scored 14 points and Roemer, who was named the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Week on Monday, added 10.With the victory, Colgate defeated American for the first time in five meetings and for just the second time in 10 contests. The win, which pulled the Raiders even with American in the Patriot League standings, was significant in many ways for this young Colgate team.Having gotten over the American hump, Colgate enters the final three games of the regular season with a renewed intensity. Tomorrow, the team plays a potentially season-defining game against Holy Cross, which comes into Cotterell Court with a 10-1 league record and an 11-game winning streak. The Raiders defeated the Crusaders at home last season and played them well earlier in the season, so there will be no hesitation out of the Raiders tomorrow.