HAMILTON, N.Y. – The Columbia Lions struggled to piece together stops and allowed the Colgate Raiders to shoot 53% from the field in an 89-71 matinee loss to the reigning Patriot League champs Sunday.
“We mixed and messed up some coverages, [and] they passed the ball really well so they picked on us when we messed up a coverage,” said Columbia head coach Jim Engles.
The Raiders (9-4) took a 7-4 lead just two minutes in after Will Rayman drilled a three, and never trailed after. They took a 48-32 lead into the locker room, in thanks to 9-for-18 shooting from downtown.
Columbia (3-9) hung around and cut it to single digits with a Randy Brumant three with eight minutes left. But from there, it was all Colgate as they jumped out to their biggest lead of the game and held on for the 18-point victory.
Senior guard Mike Smith led the Lions with 23 points, but the big story on offense was 18 points from Ike Nweke.
“I was really happy for Ike (Nweke) because that’s important for our team. Mike (Smith) has been playing well, and if Ike can play like that and get like Jack Forrest or one other guy to step up like Jake Killingsworth, then that really helps us,” Engles said. Nweke also had nine boards along with Killingsworth.
Forrest was playing really well and had 12 points off 5-for-8 shooting, but left the game early after a collision on defense.
“He [Forrest] got hit in the eye, so he’s got a pretty bad black eye so we’ll see,” Engles said. “Hopefully a couple of days rest and he should be ready for Marist (on Saturday),”
The Lions shot 40% on the afternoon and hit 12 of their 15 free throws. They were outrebounded 29-26, and each team turned the ball over 10 times.
Jordan Burns led the Raiders with a 21-point, 10-assist double-double. Will Rayman also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. The Raiders had six scorers in double-figures.
After Christmas, the Lions head back home for contests against Marist and Albany before finishing nonconference play with games against Maine and Mt. Saint Vincent.
“We just gotta score the ball better, and gotta be a little bit more fundamental on defense,” Engles said.
Led by head coach Matt Langel and assistant coaches Mike Jordan and Dave Klatsky, all Penn alumni, Colgate is looking for its second straight Patriot League title.
The Lions will tip with Marist on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium. The game will be live on ESPN+ as usual.