The Colgate men’s basketball team recently wrapped up their regular season play with games against Lehigh and Lafayette. The Raiders were unable to take home a win in either of their final two league matchups. With these two losses the team will head to the league tournament with a league record of 8-10, which earned them a first round bye. Considering number-nine seed Holy Cross was able to win the conference tournament last year, the Raiders are far from finished.
When the Raiders traveled to Lehigh on February 22, they knew they were up for a challenge. Lehigh handed Colgate a 14-point loss earlier in the year and were led by two-time Patriot League player of the year Tim Kempton. Colgate’s fear of Kempton proved to be justified as he led the Mountain Hawks with an impressive stat line of 22 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. Despite Kempton’s prowess, Colgate fought to make it a competitive game. Junior forward Jordan Swopshire was hot in the first half, tying the game for the Raiders; however, Lehigh always seemed to have an answer of their own. Closing the half with a 20-2 run, the Mountain Hawks seemed to have pushed the game out of reach. Junior Jordan Robertson did his best to lead the Raider comeback with 14 points in the final 12 minutes of play. It was not enough, as the scoreboard read 87-69 in favor of Lehigh.
The Raiders hoped to bounce back and head into the Patriot League tournament on a high note with a win against Lafayette on February 24. The last meeting between the two teams ended in a 10-point win for Colgate, but this meeting would be a much closer contest. A back-and-forth contest with multiple lead changes, the game came down to the wire as Lafayette held on to a one-point lead with two minutes remaining. After that lead was extended to seven, Colgate made their last push. A three-pointer from first-year standout Will Raymen and three clutch free throws were key in cutting that lead back down to 69-67 in the last minute. That was as close as the Raiders would get to Lafayette, as the final score was 73-69.
The two losses are not an ideal way to head into the Patriot League tournament, but the Raiders remain confident. Swopshire, who had led the team with 20 points in the loss against Lehigh, shared
“I know we [have] a shot to win the league, but in order to do so we got to have focused practices until then. We’re at our best when we are locked in defensively and free-flowing on offense. It’ll have to be a full team effort, but I have no doubt we are capable of getting the job done,” Swopshire said.
The squad starts their pursuit of a Patriot League title in the quarterfinal round at Lehigh on Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Raiders hope to capture this title with the goal of securing a bid in the NCAA tournament.