Rising To The Occasion: Men’s Basketball Sweeps Lehigh and Lafeyette

Every season, it seems as if the Raider men’s basketball team begins the season slowly and then turns it on near the end of the year. This year, however, may be different for head coach Emmett Davis and his men. The team may have begun its late-season push a little earlier than expected this time around, after defeating then-first place Lehigh and Lafayette to raise its league record above .500. On Friday evening, the Raiders welcomed the then 4-0 Lehigh Mountain Hawks to Cotterell Court and came away with a 61-54 victory. The first half was tightly contested, as Colgate stayed with the Mountain Hawks throughout. The Raiders made a bit of a run at the end of the half, however, and went into the break with a 31-25 advantage. Colgate built up a seven-point edge with 4:58 remaining in the game, before Lehigh came back with a quick 7-0 run to knot the score at 50. A jumper and two free throws by sophomore Jon Simon gave the Raiders a four-point lead, and Colgate hit five free throw attempts down the stretch to win the game.The Raiders won the game due to their defensive effort, which helped to overcome the team’s average shooting night. The Raiders shot the ball at a clip of only 35 percent, but the team was able to keep the Mountain Hawks to 32 percent shooting. Colgate held Lehigh’s Joe Knight and Jose Olivero, who average a combined 23.9 points per game, to a total of 11 points. The Raiders, meanwhile, were paced by senior co-captain Andrew Zidar, who had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Alvin Reed led the team with 15 points as Colgate won its second consecutive game.The win marked the second consecutive season in which Lehigh came to Hamilton as the first-place team in the Patriot League and left with a loss. It was also the 14th consecutive time that the Mountain Hawks lost on Cotterell Court.Coming off the big win, Colgate followed up on Sunday with another important league win, this time against Lafayette. The Raiders garnered their third consecutive victory after holding off the pesky Leopard squad, 80-72.Neither team shot the ball well in the first half, especially from beyond the arc. Lafayette made 1-of-11 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, while Colgate didn’t make any of its six long-range shots. In the opening half, Colgate was bullied inside by Lafayette’s Jamaal Douglas, who scored 12 of his team’s 26 points. The Raiders managed to stay with Lafayette, however, and went into the half with a tenuous 30-26 lead.The second half belonged to the Raiders, however. First-year Kyle Roemer, who was held without a point in the first half, scored Colgate’s first nine points of the second half as Colgate opened the half on a 17-3 run. Roemer didn’t score another point in the game, but he had already done his damage.The Raider lead grew to as much as 18 after the run, but the Leopards would not quit. Lafayette responded with a 12-0 run of their own to reduce the lead to six points with 11:18 remaining, but a Zidar three-pointer stemmed the tide and allowed the Raiders to hold on. After an emphatic dunk by first-year Alex Woodhouse at the 4:46 mark, the Raiders did not score another field goal, and yet the team still pulled out the victory by scoring its last 14 points from the free throw line. For the game, the Raiders hit 20-of-29 free throw attempts, while Lafayette attempted only 19 and made just 13. Despite troubles at the end of the game, Colgate still shot a blistering 58 percent from the field in the second half and 48 percent for the game. The Raiders held Lafayette to 35 percent shooting, as the Leopards launched three-pointer after ill advised three-pointer throughout the contest.Despite the play of Roemer, the key player for Colgate on the afternoon was Reed. The junior scored 26 points, tying a career-high, and took on the role of floor general for Colgate. Reed knew exactly when to push the tempo and when to slow the play down, keeping the Leopards off balance and keeping the Raiders in control. Zidar also played excellently, recording his second consecutive double-double with 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Woodhouse tied a career-best with 12 points and just missed a double-double with nine boards.Coming off two big wins, the Raiders hope to continue their momentum this weekend on the road. Colgate travels to Annapolis today to take on Navy and then moves on to the nation’s capital to take on American on Sunday afternoon. Colgate has won five consecutive games against the Midshipmen, but the team was swept by American in all three of the team’s meetings last season, including a 65-55 win for the Eagles in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. A win over American, one of the two teams currently tied with Colgate for third place in the league, would help vault the Raiders into the upper half of the Patriot League.