For this weekend’s sports wrap-up, rowdy roarer Ross Chapman brings you coverage of the men’s basketball team’s successful weekend!
For the first time all season, the men’s basketball team managed to earn two wins in a single Ivy weekend when they travelled up to Brown and Yale. The high preseason expectations for the Lions make this weekend long overdue, and there’s a lot to like about knocking down Yale from first place to second in the Ivy standings. This was the first road sweep since the 2008 season.
Coming off of a disappointing 0-2 weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth, the Lions were looking for a confidence booster in Providence on Friday. Against an ailing Brown team, Columbia showed absolutely no mercy. It was the Maodo Lo show against the Bears, as he managed 21 points in the first half to secure a 20 point halftime lead. Nobody got hot from behind the arc, but the Lions finished the game shooting 36% for three, which is indicative of better decision making on whether or not to drive to the basket. The combination of Lo and Jeff Coby was able to do just that. Jeff Coby is emerging as a star among the Lions’ three sophomore forwards, becoming more consistent with the three-pointer while maintaining his driving ability.
The second half against Brown was more of the same. Maodo Lo continued to be unstoppable, and he ended up with 35 points, the most by a Lion player in over a decade. His 14 goals from the field (on 20 attempts) broke a court record in Providence. The worst part about the game for the Lions was the lack of effectiveness from Kyle Castlin, who scored just two points. This game was about what many fans expected for the season after Rosenberg’s injury – Maodo Lo would lead the team without a true #2 offensive threat. However, Columbia came back with a more balanced attack the next night at Yale.
This was a game of runs for both squads. Columbia earned a 14-4 lead by the first media timeout thanks to Steve Frankoski (3 free throws and a three) and some drives by Lo, Cohen, and Osetkowski. Then Yale tied the game back up. Columbia then scored the next 12 points, which gave the Lions a 26-14 lead with 4 minutes left in the half. The run saw freshman guard Nate Hickman’s first real appearance in an Ivy game when he hit a three with an assist from Lo. The Lions shot 3-9 from deep both halves, again opting to drive forward. Osetkowski finished with 10 points, six off of free throws, and Lo scored 18 with only one three-pointer to his name.
Coming into the second half with an eight point lead, Columbia extended it to 15 thanks to Lo, Osetkowski, and McComber. The game would go to 42-26 at the first media. From there, Columbia really started to struggle. The Lions went 0-5 over the next six minutes and turned the ball over four times before their next basket. Then they went ice cold again for another five minutes. By the time the Lions woke up from their hibernation, there were three and a half minutes left, and Yale had climbed back within three. Flashbacks ran in the minds of fans to a collapse against Yale just a few years prior. But when it mattered, the Lions came through. They defended a barrage of three-pointers from the Bulldogs and made a few more baskets. Leading by four with ten seconds left, Isaac Cohen inbounded the ball to an open Castlin, who ran to the basket and delivered what I believe to be his first dunk of the season. That would be the last move of the game, as the Lions won 56-50.
With four games left in the Ivy schedule, a 9-5 finish is still possible for the Lions. However, that will require a home win against league-leading Harvard and a road victory in the well-fortified Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton. Still, this weekend proved that this Columbia squad can be more than a middling team, which maintains our hopes for a glorious end of the season.