Following its drubbing at the hands of the No. 3 Syracuse Orange, the Colgate men’s basketball team went on to post a win in its home opener and a road loss against St. Francis (Pa.) and Marist, respectively.
In the first game, the Raiders (2-3) followed the hot shooting of junior forward Brandon James and his 17 bench points as they won their first game at home by a final of 74–66. Senior guard Mike Venezia and sophomore guard Pat Moore each added 13 points, pacing a potent three-point attack. ‘Gate finished 10-21 from downtown, or 48 percent, and shot 47 percent from the field for the game.
Even with a solid start shooting, the Raiders still found themselves trailing the Red Flash (0-4) by as many as nine points in the first half. Following an 11-2 run with 10:29 remaining, Colgate found itself down 22-13. However, the Raiders responded with a 14-4 run of their own to close out the half, leading 35-30. James and Moore led the team with nine points each in the first 20 minutes of play and shot a very legitimate 50 percent from the field.
But St. Francis and its guard Ollie Jackson would not go quietly into the brisk Hamilton evening. The rookie, who finished with 19 points, led a small run to bring the Red Flash back within one point with over 15 minutes left, but that was as close as they came. The Raiders seemed content to play a back-and-forth contest until the closing minutes during which they hit six free throws to seal the victory. Senior forward Sterling Melville played a crucial role on the defensive side of the ball, collecting nine rebounds, as ‘Gate led that category as a team by a count of 41-24.
It was Melville that again led Colgate in its next contest, pouring in 20 points, but the efforts of both he and the team were not enough to overcome generally poor shooting and numerous turnovers as the Raiders fell to Marist, 81-73.
Junior Mitch Rolls added a season-high 19 points and James had nine boards, but ‘Gate still trailed most of the way. It is undoubtedly difficult to win games when you turn the ball over 17 times and shoot only 43 percent from the field. The Raiders did shoot an outstanding 54 percent on three-pointers, continuing their strong performance from beyond the arc. ‘Gate was able to make it close near the end, cutting Red Foxes’s (2-4) lead to four with under 30 seconds remaining, but Marist hit their free throws to
ensure a home win.
The Raiders looked a bit off from the start of the game, trading baskets and playing some sloppy basketball. The Red Foxes did not play at a significantly higher level, but they still managed to go on a 15-4 run to break the game open in the first half. Still, Colgate was within reach at halftime, down 39-30.
Rather incredibly, ‘Gate came out hot to start the second half and went on a 13-3 run, tying the game at 43 with 15:22 to go. Moore knocked down back-to-back threes to draw the Raiders even. However, Marist answered back with another big run and eventually built a 73-60 lead with just 1:16 left. Melville and Rolls hit desperate three-pointers to trim the lead to just seven with a minute to go, but the closest they could get was four after a three-point play and a layup from each player, respectively.
Chavaughn Lewis, Marist’s first-year combo guard, led his team with 23 points and five steals. The Red Foxes as a team shot a very respectable 79 percent from the foul line, reaching the charity stripe 29 times to the Raiders’s eight. Mitch Rolls scored 13 for ‘Gate, who could definitely benefit from a significant increase in free throw attempts going forward.
With a winnable home game against Eastern Michigan, Colgate should be able to build some confidence as it heads towards the Patriot League opener against American on January 7. With continued long-range shooting success, less turnovers and more hit free throws, ‘Gate will have more than a fighting chance this season.
Contact Jordan Plaut at [email protected]