The Colgate Raiders men’s basketball team opened Patriot League conference tournament play this Monday at Cotterell Court. The Raiders secured their first home tournament game since 2008, mainly because of a hot finish to the regular season in conference play. The team looked to take advantage of its home court opportunity for the first round of the tournament and did so by securing a nail-biting win over the Navy Midshipmen. Colgate’s 57-51 win over Navy was its first conference tournament win since 2009.
The Raiders needed to rely on strong defense as they struggled to find scoring opportunities on the other end. The offense struggled to get into a rhythm early on and committed several turnovers, but the team proved resilient and recovered from its early mistakes with some strong defense.
Sophomore guard Austin Tillotson provided some key stops by limiting the Mids’ scoring opportunities and forcing many turnovers. His two steals throughout the game are an understatement compared to his leadership and tenacity on the defensive end.
Junior center Ethan Jacobs also came up big in the paint using his size to restrict many scoring opportunities in the paint for the Mids’ offense. Five of his nine boards came on the defensive end. Jacobs’ two blocks also prevented the Mids from securing a lead over the Raiders at key moments in the game. Tillotson and junior guard Luke Roh also provided additional support on the boards by bringing down a combined eight defensive boards, which limited many additional scoring chances for the Mids.
The Raider defense held the Mids to a mere 21 points in the first half, which highlights one of the Raiders’ best games defensively. Though the Raiders struggled to find a scoring rhythm in the first half, one of the team’s best-executed plays of the season came with 6.6 seconds left in the first half. Tillotson drove the ball down the court and seemed to be driving toward the rim for the big finish, drawing in many Mids, but quickly dished it to Roh. Roh was open at the rim for the stellar finish at the buzzer, giving the Raiders some strong momentum going into the second half. The Raiders needed to continue to play some tough defense and take advantage of every scoring chance if they wanted to keep their season alive.
They did exactly that. The Raiders seemed to find a better rhythm offensively even though they struggled to convert many of their shots from downtown. They relied on their drives to the basket and offense in the paint in order to build a lead. Roh and junior guard Damon Sherman-Newsome were major catalysts for the offense with their consistent drives past the Navy zone defense. The two were able to draw fouls to put key players for the Mids in foul trouble. The two would combine for 26 points throughout the game, contributing to the bulk of the offense’s scoring during the game.
Jacobs made his presence in the paint well known, scoring 10 points and
providing many more scoring opportunities for the Raiders by grabbing four offensive boards. Tillotson provided an abundance of scoring opportunities for the team as they looked for scoring chances despite Navy’s strong zone defense. Tillotson’s four assists on the night proved to be key difference makers for the team offensively.
The Raiders seemed destined to win the game after securing a strong lead with a mere few minutes left in the half but the Mids weren’t going down without a fight. The Mids quickly drained a couple shots from downtown, making the game a thriller to the finish. But the Raiders answered with some strong, consistent foul shooting, which eventually put the Mids out of the game and secured the Raider win.
The Raiders will be playing American University in the quarterfinals on Wednesday Night in Washington D.C. The team bested American 63-60 the last time they played at American, proving they are more than capable of defeating one of the hottest teams in the Patriot League this season.
Contact Matt Washuta at [email protected]