Men’s Basketball Wrestles with Lions

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The Raiders played out-of-conference this past weekend, facing off with the Ivy’s Columbia Lions and the Big Ten’s Penn State Nittany Lions.

Theo Asher., Colgate Sports Editor

Colgate Men’s Basketball is wrapping up their non-conference play, as they faced off with the Ivy league’s Columbia Lions and the Big Ten’s Penn State Nittany Lions last week. The team split these two games, putting their overall record at 7-4 ahead of Marist and Pitt this upcoming week.

On December 5, the Raiders held their own in New York City against the Lions, securing a tight 64-62 victory. Through the first half, it was clear that Colgate had the upper hand on both sides of the ball. They limited the Lions to a meager 23 points through 20 minutes, dominating in all offensive and defensive categories. In particular, the Raiders out-rebounded the Lions 21-13 in the first frame, with junior forward Rapolas Ivanauskas racking up six boards through 16 minutes. Colgate went to the locker room for halftime with a 36-23 lead, a deceivingly confident margin that would not hold for the rest of the contest.

The Lions showed up to compete for the second half and made the proper adjustments that put them back into the game. After Colgate had controlled the pace for most of the second half, Columbia came roaring back on an electric 14-2 run that eventually put them ahead 62-61 with 3:38 remaining in the game. Columbia’s Quinton Adlesh, Gabe Stefanini and Jake Killingsworth led the ferocious charge, draining a trio of three- pointers that completely shifted the momentum of the game. Colgate was down, but certainly not out. In the game of basketball, one shot is all it takes to cement a major come- back or shut one down completely. That’s exactly what happened—defense shaped the rest of the game’s action, until senior guard Francisco Amiel buried a clutch three-pointer to put the Raiders up 64-62 with 1:41 left on the clock. This basket proved to be the decisive blow to the hopes of the Lions, as Colgate’s defense pressured Columbia into missing four field goals, three of them beyond the arc. Amiel was able to s(t)eal the deal with a critical defensive turnover, and Adlesh missed a three at the buzzer, confirming a 64-62 victory for the maroon and white. Amiel and sophomore guard Jordan Burns ended up being the difference-makers in this one, as Burns led all players on the court with 18 points in the game and currently stands at third in the Patriot League in points per game (16.4). Colgate’s first victory on Columbia’s home turf put their overall record at a solid 7-3 mark, giving head coach Matt Langel a reason to smile.

“I am nonetheless extremely proud of our guys for finding a way tonight. I am equally happy for Francisco to make that big three and get that late steal and save to put us in the position to win. We talk often about how the game rewards guys who work hard at their craft and are 100 percent committed to their team, and that is what we saw tonight in Francisco’s play,” said Langel.

No rest for the wicked—Colgate Men’s Basketball bounced right back to take on a division one powerhouse in the Penn State Nittany Lions on December 2 in University Park, P.A. Last season’s NIT champions gave Colgate quite the rude welcoming, draining six of their first ten attempted three-pointers in the game. The team was within striking distance, only down nine points about halfway through the frame, until the Nittany Lions poured on the offense, assuming a commanding 32-13 lead with a little over seven minutes remaining in the half. At the inter- mission, the Raiders were down by ten, but, seeing the power of a second-wind burst of energy, that lead would not last long into the next half. First year guard Tucker Richard- son laid the foundations for a comeback with three-consecutive three-pointers to bring the Raiders within ten points. Burns added a trey-ball at the 3:45 mark in the second half to put Colgate within three points of Penn State, 63-60. Unfortunately, they were not able to continue to ride the wave of long- range shooting momentum, eventually fall- ing to the Nittany Lions 76-65. Penn State’s Rasir Bolton led all players in this contest with 27 points.

The men will next face the Marist Red Foxes this Saturday December 15 at 2 p.m. on Cotterell Court. The Raiders will try to tune up before a two week-long break against Marist, who is currently riding a three-game win streak. No matter—these Raiders can tame any beast on the court.

Contact Theo Asher at [email protected]