Colgate Men’s Basketball Heads into Patriot League Tournament on a Hot Streak

After a 74-69 victory over the U.S. Naval Academy on Feb. 26, the Colgate Men’s Basketball team continued their run of dominance in the Patriot League to put an exclamation point on a 16-2 conference season. By closing with a 12-game winning streak, the Raiders clinched home-court advantage in Hamilton for the upcoming Patriot League tournament, which began Thursday, March 3. In a year filled with record-breaking performances, conference-wide honors and a historic victory at Syracuse University in the Carrier Dome, the squad vaulted Colgate onto the national stage. In addition, by shooting 39.3% from behind the three-point line and averaging 16.8 assists per game, the squad currently ranks fifth and 11th in the country respectively in these categories.

Following a challenging non-conference schedule riddled with injuries and high-level competition, the Raiders entered the Patriot League season with a 4-9 record. Built on a balanced offensive attack in which all five starters average double-digit scoring numbers, veteran leadership and a stingy defensive scheme, a healthy squad entered their conference games hungry to repeat as conference champions and return to the NCAA tournament.

“We needed everyone to step up this season,” said Tucker Richardson, a senior guard who stands alone in the Colgate record book as the only player to mark 1000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in his Colgate career. As a First-Team All Patriot League selection, Richardson further emphasizes his attempts to “be a distributor and keep an all-around game” which can assist his teammates in producing at a high level on the court.

As the season progressed, the Raiders saw three players eclipse the 1000-point scoring mark, a true emblem of consistency and scoring talent on the roster. On Jan. 10 against the U.S. Military Academy, senior guard Jack Ferguson became the first to surpass the 1000 point milestone with a 14 point effort. Ferguson went on to become the career leader in games played on Jan. 31, recording his 135th game for the maroon and white. While accolades continued to pour in for the players, Head Coach Matt Langel made his own history. He surpassed Emmett Davis, a 13-year coach for the Raiders, for his record-breaking 166th win at the helm of the program on Feb. 9 against Lehigh. On Feb. 16 at Army, First-Team All-Patriot League guard Nelly Cummings, the leading scorer on the roster, poured in 20 points to reach 1000 for his career.

Aside from winning the Patriot League Regular Season title, perhaps the team’s greatest accomplishment took place away from Hamilton at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. On Nov. 20, the Raiders hit 18 three-pointers to tie the Carrier Dome’s all-time record and defeated the Syracuse Orange by a score of 100-85. After trailing 22-5 in the first half, Ferguson finished with 25 points and Cummings added 18 to help snap Colgate’s 59 year drought against the Orange. As a whole, stellar three-point shooting across the roster allowed the Raiders to surpass the single-season program record for conference wins, which was previously set at 14 games, lead the league in scoring at 75.3 points per game and account for the two highest three-point shooting percentages in the conference — Oliver Lynch-Daniels at 52.4% and Ryan Moffatt at 45.1%.

Looking forward to the Patriot League tournament, junior center Keegan Records highlighted the importance of consistency.

“We have a lot of guys who can score on any night. The key for us is to find the hot hand and share the ball,” he said.

Records, a Third-Team All-Patriot League selection and the conference leader in field goal percentage further reiterated the importance of “building on valuable playoff experience” from playing in two straight Patriot League Championship games that can aid the Raiders’ playoff journey. With five starters who have played in 11 combined Patriot League Championship games and a dominant supporting cast coming off the bench, this year’s Colgate roster is balanced, hard-working and confidently riding the nation’s fourth-longest winning streak. It is an exciting time and an opportunity for the Colgate community to rise up and support the Raiders in their postseason journey. A jam-packed and raucous Cotterell Court environment could help jumpstart a potential return to the NCAA tournament.