Men’s Basketball Beats American; Falls to Lehigh

The men’s basketball team won a simply ludicrous 75-74 double overtime battle against American last Saturday, breaking an 11-game losing streak against the Eagles. Senior forward Ben Jonson led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Kyle Roemer pitched in 19 as well. First-year point guard Mitch Rolls accrued 13 points and seven assists. American was led by Patriot League Player of the Year candidate Vlad Moldoveanu with 30 points and 10 boards, and Stephen Lumpkins had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Jonson in particular was outstanding, nailing a buzzer-beating jumper to force a second overtime and playing solid defense on Moldoveanu in the last seconds of double overtime to prevent disaster. He also hit the game-tying bucket in regulation, coming up big three times.

Four days later, Colgate could not hold a 49-40 halftime lead and lost to lehigh 91-81. CJ McCollum and Michael Ojo each scored 22 points for Lehigh. Roemer scored 21 to lead Colgate. Jonson and sophomore forward Yaw Gyawu scored 13, and rolls had 10 to go along withs even assists.

The Raiders have played in five games decided by one point this season, and none of them have been more thrilling and bizarre than Colgate’s win over American Saturday. In its aftermath, two questions need to be considered.

First, how often does a team come back from a five-point deficit with five seconds left? Secondly, how often does a player save a game by making three gigantically important plays in the last minute of regulation, a first overtime and a second overtime?

The answer to both is slim to none, and slim just walked out the door.

Colgate trailed 66-60 in the first overtime before senior guard Kyle Roemer rattled in a three-pointer with 26 seconds left. American junior forward Vlad Moldoveanu responded with two free throws, forcing the Raiders to produce a minor miracle. Luckily, Colgate had one up its sleeve. First-year point guard Mitch Rolls dribbled up the floor looking for a player to dish the ball off to. With no open man in sight, Rolls was forced to put up a desperation three-pointer that rattled home. Three seconds remained on the clock. American looked to inbound the ball, but sophomore Yaw Gyawu made an acrobatic play by catching the pass off-balance and knocking the rock off an Eagle out-of-bounds. With four-tenths of a second remaining on the clock, Colgate still had a slight chance for a catch-and-shoot opportunity. Jonson answered the call rolling off a screen from sophomore center Nick Pascale, receiving an in-bounds pass from Rolls and nailing a fallaway baseline jumper from 10 feet away. While it seemed to the naked eye that Jonson did not got the shot off in under a half-second, the two points stood uncontested, and both teams went into the second overtime.

“We’ve worked on that play in practice, and we didn’t have a timeout so our guys came over to sideline and I told them what we were doing,” Coach Davis said. “We had done it in practice, and it was well set up and well designed with the players executing. You can execute a play, but you can miss a shot. But Jonson got a real good look after a good screen from Pascale and a good pass from Rolls. Everything had to go right and it had to be perfect catch and shoot, and Jonson did it and knocked it down.”

In the second overtime, both teams were tied at 72 when another Raider made a defensive stand.

With just over a minute remaining, sophomore center Nick Pascale blocked a first-year guard Daniel Munoz’s shot and then caught the ball in succession. Munoz fouled Pascale, who then went to the line and made two clutch free throws. American sophomore guard Simon McCormack then missed a jumper on the other end, and the Eagles were forced to foul Rolls. Rolls hit one-of-two free throws to give Colgate a 75-72 advantage with half-a-minute left. Continuing this episode of Days of Our Lives, American junior guard Nick Hendra was fouled as he shot a three-pointer. Hendra made the first two free throws, with the third attempt bouncing off the front rim. Roemer grabbed the rebound, and now it was his turn on the most popular spot on the court in the second overtime. Shockingly, Roemer missed both shots after making all 10 of his previous charity stripe efforts. American went down the court and immediately went to Moldoveanu, who tried to go to the hoop. Roemer and Jonson immediately smothered him, with the latter player blocking his baseline jumper with five seconds left. Moldoveanu got the rebound though and put up one last attempt, but the ball hit the far rim and rattled out. After two-and-a-half hours of insanity, Colgate fans could finally breathe.

There was a 40-minute regulation period, by the way. American led 36-25 in the second half before ‘Gate went on a 12-1 run capped by a Rolls jumper to tie the game at 37. The Raiders later led 49-46 after consecutive jumpers from Roemer and Jonson, but a few minutes later, a Moldoveanu layup gave American a 52-51 lead with just under four minutes left. Both teams traded layups and free throws until Jonson hit a layup with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 56. On the other end, smothering defense led to American being unable to get a shot off in time, leading to a shot clock violation and an overtime session.

Last night’s game against first-place Lehigh, which took place too late for full coverage in the Maroon-News, was a disappointment, for Colgate led 71-70 before Lehigh finished the game with a 21-10 run.

Colgate will now play at Bucknell on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.