Men’s Basketball Loses 73-65 to Lafayette in PLT

The Colgate men’s basketball team’s season ended with a 73-65 loss to Lafayette in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Tournament last night, March 3. Lafayette guard Jim Mower scored 19 points on 6-11 shooting, including four three-pointers. Leopards forward Ryan Willen had 14 points and six boards. The Leopards used deft passing (21 assists) and knocked down the open shot all night, making ten three-pointers as a team and shooting just under 50 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Yaw Gyawu, first-year guard Mitch Rolls and senior guard Kyle Roemer each scored 15. Sophomore center Nick Pascale had eight points and nine rebounds. Senior forward Ben Jonson had just four points after getting into foul trouble in the first half.

Last Saturday, Colgate ended the regular season with an 85-72 win over Navy on Senior Day. Jonson led the way with 22 points, Roemer contributed 18 and Rolls had 17.

Lafayette took the lead for good after Mower hit a three-pointer to put the Leopards up 8-6 early in the game. Later in the half, Lafayette used a 14-4 run to take a 26-14 lead. The Raiders responded with six straight points before Mower ended the stretch with a three-point play. Lafayette stretched its lead to as many as 16 points before settling for a 41-28 halftime advantage.

The Raiders cut the Leopards’ advantage to five points, 48-43, after Gyawu hit a layup. Lafayette responded with an 8-2 run, but Colgate would later cut the lead down to 56-50 after a Roemer bucket. That’s as close as the Raiders would get for the game, however, as Lafayette hit key free throws and three-pointers down the stretch to seal the game.

The Navy game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Rolls, Jonson and Roemer led an offensive clinic for all the young players in the stands, as they combined for 38 of the Raiders’ points in a first half that saw Colgate outscore Navy 50-24. The Raiders used a 10-0 run to take a 19-9 lead after a Jonson three-pointer. Later in the half, Navy point guard OJ Avworo cut into Colgate’s lead with a jumper, making the score 22-15 in the Raiders’ favor. Colgate immediately responded with an 18-4 run capped by a ferocious Jonson dunk after he slashed through the lane. Leading 40-19 at this point, Colgate maintained its healthy lead with largely backups on the floor. Sophomore point guard Anthony Hill finished the first half domination by making a three-pointer from the wing at the buzzer.

Navy did not wave a white flag at halftime, for they used full-court and half-court presses to coerce Colgate into numerous turnovers, leading to some quick buckets. A 16-4 Navy run cappted by a Jordan Sugars three-pointer brought Navy within 58-42 with 13:23 left. Consecutive steals off the press later in the half led to five points that cut Colgate’s advantage to 64-54 with seven minutes to go. Colgate responded with five straight points, but Navy point guard Chris Harris led a 7-0 run to quiet the crowd and cut the Raiders’ advantage to 69-61 with 4:33 left.

Roemer then made the play of the game, rebounding a Rolls missed three-pointer and putting in a layup as the shot clock expired to put Colgate up 10. This jumpstarted a 9-0 Raiders run that essentially put the game away. Numerous fouls slowed the game to a snail’s pace down the stretch; in fact, there were 56 fouls called and 66 free throws attempted on the afternoon.

Elsewhere in the box score, Navy went 24-for-68 from the field, with leading Patriot League scorer Harris shooting 6-of-26. Colgate out-rebounded Navy 47-30 but committed a whopping 25 turnovers. Still, the Raiders played their best Patriot League game of the season, and sent Roemer and Jonson out winners from Cotterell Court.

The Raiders end the season on a disappointing note, with a 10-19 overall record. It is the third time in four years that Colgate has won just 10 games. It is also the third straight year that Colgate has lost its leading scorer from the previous year for the entire Patriot League season, as junior Mike Venezia sat out the ledger due to complications with a foot injury sustained against TCU. He will be eligible to play for two more seasons, however.

Next season, the Raiders return four starters in Rolls, Gyawu, Venezia and Pascale. Furthermore, redshirt sophomore center John Brandenburg will take to the court after transferring from the University of Virginia and sitting out a mandatory year. Junior Joe Hoban should provide a spark off the bench, as well as sophomore forward Sterling Melville.

Lafayette will host Holy Cross and Lehigh will entertain American on Sunday in the Patriot League Tournament semifinal bouts.