Looking for the open shot
Aspiring sports journalists Ross Chapman and Max Rettig bring you the latest coverage of all things basketball (and other sporting festivities).
Preseason Ivy League basketball favorite Harvard fell to Dartmouth yesterday, 61-70. 2013-14 runner-up Yale only barely beat Brown, 69-65. And Columbia found itself in a position to change the Ivy landscape and assert itself as a major contender for the conference title. A win against Cornell would have put the Lions at 2-0, in front of the Crimson and tied with the Bulldogs, ahead of a crucial showdown next week. But the Lions couldn’t shake their shooting demons and lost to the Big Red, 47-57, squandering a huge chance to control their own destiny in an Ivy season in which every game matters.
The Lions led for much of the first 20 minutes, but never comfortably. After about 14 minutes, Cornell got its first lead at 18-17. Then, in the waning minutes of the half, first-year Kyle Castlin notched a fast five to put Columbia back in front, 23-21. But Cornell’s Dave LaMore netted a buzzer-beater tip-in on a ball that was about to roll out, and the Big Red led 27-25 as the college players left the court and the pee-wee players took over as halftime entertainment.
The Lions were within easy striking distance—a trey would put them ahead. Then they got shut down by a high-pressure Cornell defense for the first seven minutes of the second half. Maodo Lo ended that drought, but Columbia’s offense stagnated again shortly thereafter. Shonn Miller and Co. charged ahead with under five minutes on the clock to put the Lions in as much as a 13-point hole they would not climb out of, gaining only three more points the rest of the way.
While they hung right with Cornell for the first half, the Lions shot a meager 27 percent from the floor in the second half, a result of poor shot choices and conservative play. Several potential breakaway opportunities ended when the Lions held on for too long and allowed all of the Big Red defenders to get in position. Usually a mild scoring threat at best, Isaac Cohen led the Lions’ effort with 13 points on 6-10 shooting, and senior center Cory Osetkowski collected 13 boards, a game-high total. Maodo Lo again was tamed. For Cornell, who shot close to 45 percent, Shonn Miller excelled, notching 18 points, nine rebounds and four of Cornell’s nine blocks. Galal Cancer added 16 points on 7-of-12 from the floor.
On a night when Cornell remedied its mistakes from last week’s slopfest, Columbia simply did not. The Lions still shot abysmally (32.8% on the game), Maodo Lo couldn’t get started (11 points, 3 fouls), and the offense again fell victim to a high-pressure, in-your-face defense, a trend the Lions will have to buck if they hope to meet, or surpass, their high expectations from last season. Though they squandered a critical opportunity to join Yale at the top of the standings, the Lions (9-7, 1-1) are still only one game back of the Bulldogs. This makes the Lions’ next matchup against Yale on Friday at 8 pm in Levien Gym especially important. A Columbia win would even out Columbia and Yale (and probably Harvard) as Ivy leaders at 2-1. If you can’t make it out to Levien to jeer at the Elis, you can catch the game on TV on SNY or on the air at WKCR 89.9 FM.
But Columbia still found ways to win yesterday…