Ivy Saturday roundup

Columbia 79, Cornell 68

Cornell’s gameplan was sound: Don’t sag in too much responding to Columbia interior attacks and try to disrupt the Lions with physicality on the perimeter. Cornell’s gameplan didn’t matter.

Columbia shot 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from beyond the arc to pull away in the second half. A trio of Lions – Luke Petrasek, Maodo Lo and C.J. Davis – hit at least three treys, enough to make up for several bunnies missed inside and playing at a faster pace than coach Kyle Smith probably wanted. Cornell missed Robert Hatter for the second game in this series but benefited from freshman guard Matt Morgan’s 26 points on 9-for-23 shooting. For more on the game, read our Ian Wenik’s instant analysis.

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Columbia gets back on track with treys, sweeps Cornell

This time around, the biggest source of drama in Columbia’s rematch with Cornell was the open question of how the Lions would be able to safely return to Manhattan following a 79-68 victory. The three-point shooting of Columbia (13-6, 2-0 Ivy) kept Cornell (7-9, 0-2) safely at arm’s length throughout the second half.

Turning point: This game was close at halftime, as Columbia only held a 36-33 lead heading into the break. In the second half, though, the Lions took advantage of their biggest strength to open up a big lead they wouldn’t give up.

Luke Petrasek, Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg all hit three-pointers in the first 3:27 of the second half, pushing the Lions’ lead to 11 points. Cornell never seriously threatened after that burst.

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Ivy Saturday roundup

Yale 77, Brown 68

As it did last season, Brown gave Yale a scare in New Haven, but not a loss.

Late free throws by Makai Mason and Jack Montague iced the game for the Elis, and Mason led Yale with 20 points in 32 minutes. Brown overcame an early 21-4 deficit to cut Yale’s lead to 37-31 at halftime. Cedric Kuakumensah, Tavon Blackmon and JR Hobbie combined for 50 of Brown’s 68 points and 15 of its 20 field goals. Brown and Yale combined for 49 fouls and 36 turnovers in what turned out to be a sloppy game.

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Columbia holds off Cornell, 74-70

Columbia opened up Ivy play the best way it possibly could have — by closing out a tough opponent in a close game. Cornell fought back from an 11-point deficit in the final four minutes, but the Lions made the free throws they needed to and held on, 74-70.

Turning point: After Matt Morgan hit a three-pointer from the right wing to draw Cornell within two, 71-69, with 16.2 seconds remaining, the Big Red knew they needed to rely on their press to have a realistic shot at winning.

They nearly got one.

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Previewing Brown-Yale & Cornell-Columbia

IHO takes a closer look at Saturday’s two Ivy conference matchups.

Brown at Yale, 5 p.m.

Last season: Then-senior guard Javier Duren canned a jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining to break a 65-65 tie and help ensure a Bulldogs victory. Yale’s 69-65 win completed a sweep of Brown, and the Elis took the lead for good with 12:28 to go in the game after Brown had led 31-25 at halftime. Justin Sears and Duren scored 27 and 24 points respectively, combining for 15 of Yale’s 20 field goals. Brown got a more balanced scoring attack, with Rafael Maia, Steven Spieth and Tavon Blackmon combining for 50 of Brown’s 65 points just five days before it Leland King’s departure from the Brown basketball program was announced. (King played only in the first matchup of this series in Providence last season, his final game as a Bear.)

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Non-stop effort propels Columbia past Howard

MANHATTAN — The week between Christmas and New Year”s is often a sleepy week, even in the bustling metropolis on the Hudson. But it was anything but quiet uptown on the Monday evening after Christmas, as a robust crowd saw the Columbia Lions win their fifth consecutive game, defeating the Howard Bison, 72-59.

Facing off against the nation”s leading scorer, Howard”s James Daniel, the Light Blue”s much-maligned defense put on one of their best performances of the season in controlling the Bison.

While Daniel finished with 36 points, the slick guard did so on an inefficient 9-29 shooting, and 2-10 from beyond the arc. The quick feet of Maodo Lo, along with alert help defense, prevented Daniel from getting any clean looks at the basket.

“I thought I emphasized it enough in practice: he”s the leading scorer in the country, he”s the leading scorer in the country,” coach Kyle Smith (Hamilton “92) said with a laugh after the game. “We wanted to be better defensively, and I think we were.”

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St. Joe’s knows Lo: How the Lions can start winning at the wire

Following last night’s devastating 80-78 loss to Saint Joseph’s, Columbia (4-5) has now lost three out of its last four games by a combined four points.

Each time, the Lions have had the ball in their hands with a chance for the tie or victory on the last possession. Each time, they’ve come up short.

Last night, it was the Lions’ defense that surprisingly gave them a chance to win late in the second half after largely going missing for much of the second frame. Saint Joseph’s shot 59.4 percent in the second half after missing 22 of its first 33 shots, but Columbia’s press defense came up huge in the final two minutes, forcing a five-second call and a turnover on the sideline that set up the final play.

With 5.3 seconds to go, the Lions had a golden opportunity, inbounding in the Hawks’ half of the floor. Everyone knew where the ball was going — especially Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli.

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How to fix Columbia’s defense

Entering the season, the general consensus was that Columbia’s biggest flaw was its potential inability to keep its opponents’ scoring totals down.

A handful of performances aside, the Lions have done little so far to shake that criticism. They suffered what was easily their worst loss of the season on Saturday night, allowing Longwood to shoot 65.2 percent in the second half of a 70-69 gut-punch. Part of Columbia’s struggles can be chalked up to sheer fatigue (Saturday was its fourth game in one week), but it’s also obvious that there are serious structural flaws that coach Kyle Smith will need to compensate for going forward.

So, what are some realistic solutions?

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Ivy post-Thanksgiving (just Columbia, unfortunately) roundup

Fairfield 82, Columbia 81 (OT)

Two threes from senior guard Grant Mullins in the final 2:19 allowed the Lions to force overtime, but to no avail. Threes ruled all night for the Lions, with 41 of their 69 field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc against Fairfield’s zone. They can shoot 1,000 threes and it won’t matter if their defense doesn’t improve. Columbia fouls resulted in 8-for-8 free throw shooting from the Stags in the second half, and former Princeton coach Sydney Johnson’s crew shot 46.7 percent for the game, 9.6 percent greater than the Lions. Now let’s just skip to the real defensive meltdown:

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Kyle Smith gives thanks for Isaac Cohen after Columbia beats Wofford

NEW YORK – Two minutes into Columbia’s final game before a brief Thanksgiving break, coach Kyle Smith’s face was redder than cranberry sauce. His team had turned it over on four straight possessions to start the game, the Lions couldn’t stop Wofford from stuffing the ball through the net and were generally playing like turkeys.

So Smith went to his bench and called upon junior forward Jeff Coby and sophomore guard Nate Hickman, the duo that helped turn the game from an 11-3 deficit into a 70-59 win for the Lions at Levien. Hickman hit a three-pointer on his first touch to get the crowd back into the game, and then it was time for the Isaac Cohen/Jeff Coby show. On three straight possessions, the Cohen to Coby combination resulted in layups for the big man and the Lions were back in it. Cohen said he just wanted to be aggressive early in the game, and noticed that Wofford was playing off him which presumably helped open up passing lanes for the senior swingman.

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