And the Lions were like “ROARRRRRR”

You may have heard about Columbia’s triumphant near-win last night. Baller Jeremy Sherman brings you the inside scoop.

Columbia Athletics has finally gained some national attention, and deservedly so. The Lion Ballers had their best loss of the season, and possibly one of the best for any Columbia sport in recent memory.

On Friday, Columbia lost to the Michigan State Spartans 62-53.

The greatness of the loss can only be appreciated with a bit of context, so here it is. As it happens, some schools that have basketball teams are concerned with national competition, so the Associated Press releases a list of rankings every week for the top 25 teams in the NCAA. Michigan State was at No. 2, and had just defeated No. 1 Kentucky, so they will presumably take the top spot after this week once the new rankings come out.

Not so fast, said Roar-ee: Columbia wasn’t going to go down without a fight. In fact, they had a 26-22 lead at the half.

While the national stage might have changed some people, the Lion Ballers stayed humble. Rather than seek fame and recognition for upsetting the No. 2 team in the country, the Lions maintained their identity and found a way to pull out the loss.

When they had a lead with four minutes left, Columbia eased off the gas pedal and refrained from scoring the rest of the game. It was an incredibly classy move by the Lions. They could feel the tension among the 15,000 in the crowd who feared their team would lose its chance at a No. 1 ranking, as well as the thousands of subscribers watching the game live on the Big Ten network and those poor AP analysts. In the end, the Lions players figured it was better for everyone just to disappoint the four people at Columbia who actually knew there was a basketball game going on.

After the game the Lions congratulated MSU, and included some references to the Spartans in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. The MSU Spartans appreciated this, even though they had no idea what it meant.

For a fan who’s sick of watching Columbia Athletics lose to no-name schools like Monmouth, Manhattan, and Harvard, it was nice to finally lose a game to a team with a national presence–and especially after giving such a monumental and impressively strong fight. The Lions got attention from media like CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, and were even featured in a highlight on ESPN’s iconic Sports Center. While fans of Columbia athletics see a lot of losses over the course of the year, its safe to say that this one was truly special. After last night’s game, we’re actually looking forward to watching the rest of this season.

Picture from the scene of the crime via Shutterstock