Sinking Fast?

Matt Oja

The Colgate men’s basketball team lost a pair of Patriot League games last weekend, dropping its league record to 3-4 and its overall mark to 8-12. In the first game of the road-trip, the Raiders faced a 4-14 Navy team that had the unfortunate distinction of being one of’s 10 worst Division I teams. Looking as loose as they’ve been all year, the Raiders tried to avoid playing down to the level of the competition by jumping out quickly on the Midshipmen. The Raiders opened up a quick 4-0 lead on long jumpers by junior Alvin Reed and first-year Kyle Roemer 41 seconds into the game. A 15-4 run by Navy, though, brought the sparse but vocal Alumni Hall crowd to its feet. This Colgate team has demonstrated the ability to make big runs – most recently evidenced by its near-comeback from a 22-point deficit against Bucknell – and it did just that when Navy opened up its largest lead of the first half, 11 points, with 13:14 to play. Its shaky ballhandling improved for the time being, Colgate reeled off seven unanswered points. After the two teams traded baskets the next several times down the court, sophomore Simon Knight found himself unguarded 20 feet from the hoop and knocked down his first career three-pointer, cutting the Navy lead to two, 27-25. This, however, was as close as the Raiders would get. Turnovers were their ultimate undoing this evening; 10 first-half miscues were converted into Navy points. The only reason that the halftime score was as close (39-33) as it was, was because Colgate held its own on the glass against the taller Midshipmen. “[Navy] played outstanding team ball, the antithesis of what we did,” head coach Emmett Davis said. “The things we set out to do…we didn’t do a single one of them.”The second half was more of the same. Colgate came out inspired, as a quick dunk by first-year Alex Woodhouse opened the scoring. After a jumper by sophomore Jon Simon and a pair of layups from senior co-captain Andrew Zidar – the second one part of a three-point-play – the margin was again two. Colgate had all the momentum and looked to be in control.With the score 42-40, though, Navy’s advantage on the boards became more of a factor. George O’Garro and Matt Fannin combined for eight of Navy’s next 10 points, with several coming after Navy offensive rebounds. Again leading by eight points after the spurt, the momentum was in Navy’s hands. The ensuing 17-9 run by the Midshipmen over the next 7:26 effectively ended the game. Colgate’s ineffectiveness on the glass greatly helped Navy, which finished with 20 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points. Zidar was the only Raider with more than four rebounds; he grabbed eight. Jon Simon led Colgate with 15 points, while Zidar chipped in with 14.”We got beat in every facet of the game tonight,” Davis said of his Raiders. “We just got manhandled.”The second game of the trip looked to be a significantly tougher test. The American Eagles were flying high with a 4-2 league record and coming off an upset of then-first place Bucknell on Friday night. With a national television audience watching, the student body turned out to make Bender Arena an unpleasant stop for the Raiders. The crowd was rewarded as the athletic Eagles jumped out to a 12-3 lead, which they increased to 41-28 at the break. This was a half in which Colgate could do nothing right at the defensive end of the floor. American shot a sizzling 59.3 percent for the half and out-rebounded the Raiders, 19-7. In the familiar position of playing from behind, Colgate responded as it often does. With Reed playing some of his best ball of the season, Colgate ripped off a 14-3 run in which Reed scored nine points. When Zidar hit a three-pointer with 15:11 to play, the score stood at 44-42. Colgate’s chances, however, took a fatal blow when Reed picked up his fourth foul during the end of the run. With American further wearing down the Raiders on the glass and big man Raimondas Petrauskas beginning to dominate the inside, Colgate would not cut the margin below seven for the rest of the game. Though the Raider ballhandlers only turned it over nine times, showing significant improvement from the Navy game, other aspects were lacking. Interior defense was poor – Petrauskas scored 22 points for the home team, which finished with a field-goal percentage of 55.8 percent. Rebounding, too, continued to be a trouble spot, as American grabbed 39 rebounds to Colgate’s 21. Simon scored 19 points to go along with his 5:0 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Reed, hampered by foul trouble, scored 11. No Colgate player had more than five rebounds.The Raiders will play two return games on the road this weekend, facing Lehigh tonight and Lafayette on Sunday. Their next games at Cotterell Court will be on February 11 and 13 against Navy and American, respectively.