Men’s Basketball Struggles to Stay Alive

Men's Basketball Struggles to Stay Alive

Markez Gonzalez

The Colgate men’s basketball team played many hard-fought games throughout the past couple of weeks and came away with victo­ries against both Dartmouth and Longwood. Most recently, the Raiders beat Dartmouth 67-64 at home following a tough home loss against American University. In the winning effort against Dartmouth, junior center Nick Pascale scored 14 points to go along with five blocked shots and seven boards. It was the first home victory for the Raiders. Both junior forward Yaw Gyawu and junior guard Mike Venezia contributed with 11 points for Colgate in its second win of the new year.

The Raiders opened up Patriot League play with a loss against Army at home on Jan­uary 8, 73-66. Though they lost this game, the Raiders were able to cut a 17-point defi­cit to two points before eventually falling in their first league opening loss since the 2003- 2004 season. On January 12, Colgate fell to Lafayette on the road 75-64. In that game Gyawu scored a team-high 18 points, but it was not enough to defeat Lafayette at the Kirby Sports Center. Junior forward Sterling Melville was perfect from the field in which he tallied a personal season high 13 points, but Lafayette built a lead on the Raiders and never looked back.

Colgate kept the game close against Amer­ican University on Saturday, but eventually fell 66-57 in a game where they allowed the opponent to surge in the second half of the game. Despite a record of 2-15, many of the Raiders’ losses were similar to this in which they played close games, but failed to come out with a victory. Gyawu scored 19 points for the Raiders, while center Pascale scored a career-high 17 points to go along with 8 rebounds in the loss against the American University eagles. Though the Raiders lost at home to American, Pascale is asserting him­self as a fixture in this offense with a com­bined 31 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocked shots over the past two games for Colgate. The Raiders can only hope that he builds upon this and helps the team end the season on a positive note.

The Raiders have played well during games this season against stiff competition. Senior guard Joe Hoban contributed with eight points and eight boards in a winning effort against Dartmouth this past Monday.

“Over break we played pretty well as a team, but just couldn’t finish ball games,” first-year Pat Moore said. “In a few games we dug ourselves holes in the first half and made great efforts to fight back, but just couldn’t find ways to win at the end. At this point, we don’t really care about moral victories though, so our expectations are first and foremost to start winning games. We have what it takes, but just need to keep at it,” Moore said.

The win against Dartmouth may be what the Raiders needed to get going as a team. It is time for the team to close out these games, because playing com­petitively is simply not enough. These players realize that they are a good team and have potential. Despite a 2-15 record, the Raiders have plenty of games left against Patriot League op­ponents and will try and prove to Col­gate fans and themselves that they can close out games in a winning fashion.

“We played a great game in a win at Longwood which has given us much needed confidence going into league play,” junior guard Mike Venezia said. “Our focus and intensity in practice and in games has definitely improved since break began, as we were able to focus solely on our progress individually and collectively. We are expecting to surprise some people in the Patriot League as we get a few more wins under our belt. We look at these league games as a new sea­son and one where we expect to have a lot of success,” Venezia said.

Venezia was a spark for the Raiders in their win against Dartmouth as he scored 11 points and dished out three assists. He missed a few games this season due to in­juries in which the Raiders missed him, but will hopefully provide the necessary spark to propel the basketball team to finishing off well.

The 15 losses have been accounted for, now it is time for the Raiders to disregard the past and look to the future. This team knows it can compete.

“We don’t want to get ahead of our­selves, but when we start winning these close ball games, we’ll be able to accom­plish what we set ourselves out to do since day one and that is to host a home playoff game, which will put us in a great position to win the Patriot League Championship,” Hoban stated.

The Raiders can only build upon their win against Dartmouth and they look to do so against Lehigh and Bucknell this week.

Last night, the Colgate men’s basket­ball hosted the defending Patriot League Champions Lehigh Mountain Hawks looking for its first conference victory of the campaign. Despite trailing by as many as eight points with under five minutes left in the game, the Raiders found a way to come through and achieve a potential season-changing triumph.

Led by Rolls and Melville, who be­tween them scored 13 of Colgate’s last 17 points, ‘Gate erased a 73-65 deficit at the 15:08 mark of the second half. After one frame of play, both teams were equal at 38 points apiece, yet Lehigh was able to surge early in the second and control the game throughout most of the half. It was only the Raiders’ impressive comeback in the last few minutes that stopped them from losing their third league game of the year. For Colgate, Melville led the way with 15 points and five rebounds, while Hoban and Rolls added 13 as well fol­lowed by Venezia with 12. For the Moun­tain Hawks, C.J. McCollum, the reign­ing Patriot League Rookie and Player of the Year led the way with 24 points.