Looking for the open shot

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.

  • The Women’s Basketball game before the men’s match was a curious mix of the rookie excellence of late and the foul and depth trouble of old. The Lions had a 21-14 lead in the first half that dwindled to 23-22 by the buzzer. They jumped out to a 33-25 lead early in the second, but let it slowly fall away. Columbia found themselves down 6 with a minute remaining. A basket and then a steal set up a perimeter shot for Alexa Giuliano, who hit her fourth three of the game to bring the Lions within one. Sarah Mead fouled Cornell, and only one of the free throws was good. Camille Zimmerman had the ball at the end, but couldn’t find a good lane to drive, and the team fell 46-42. The Lions’ real enemies of the game were themselves. They committed 21 fouls, including 5 on Amara Mbionwu. With her out of the rotation, four Lions were forced to play over 36 minutes on the court. Cornell shot an atrocious 44% from the stripe in the second half, but with so many opportunities, the Big Red found a way to win.
  • Fencing rolled down to Queens to compete in the St. John’s Super Cup, an event that joins six of the most powerful programs in the country. The Lions lived up to their hype, as the women defeated every opponent to finish first, and the men lost only to Harvard, claiming second overall. Jackie Dubrovich led the team with her foil, going a perfect 9-0 on the day. The Lions are at it again today at the NYU invitational.
  • Just like the swordsmen, both Swimming and Diving teams excelled at Uris Pool yesterday. On the men’s side, Jayden Pantel won gold and Micah Rembrandt took silver in both the 1- and 3-meter dives in convincing fashion. The Lions were triumphant all day but especially successful in the relays, where the 200 medley team set a Uris Pool record and the 400 freestyle squad did the same, becoming the first Columbia relay in history to break 3:00.00 for the event. The women also won on the boards behind Alyssa Menz and dominated in the water, led by Christina Ray’s pool record 50 free.
  • Wrestling couldn’t upset a #23 Bucknell team last night in Pennsylvania. Bucknell jumped out early with four wins including a major decision and a pin very late in a match, but Columbia won the next three, capped by a Shane Hughes pin, to make the meet’s score 16-12. The Lion’s couldn’t finish the comeback, forever. They’ll be wrestling today in Levien in a tri-dual with American and Hofstra.
  • The Tennis teams are in Indiana right now at the ITA Kick-off for the spring season. The men found themselves in a hole early against the #18 Tennessee Volunteers. The Lions dropped the doubles point and fell on the #1 and #6 singles courts early, but Dragos Ignat, Ashok Narayana, and Mike Vermeer all won their matches in straight sets to help secure a victory. The women faced a similar early hole against #16 Georgia Tech, but couldn’t pull the comeback. First-year Alexandra Solovyev was the only Lion to come out with a win over her ranked opponent.

Get away from me! via GoColumbiaLions.com