A career-best 17 points from Columbia men’s basketball senior forward Josh Odunowo led the Lions to a huge 83-69 road win over Brown at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.
Columbia (12-8, 3-4 Ivy) was in control for most of the game, using 11-2, 9-0 and 12-0 runs in a 17-minute period overlapping the two halves to open up an insurmountable 18-point lead and remain in fourth place in its quest for the program’s first-ever appearance in the Ivy League Tournament.
The teams were knotted at 15 before the Lions used its first big run of the day to make it 27-17 with nine minutes to go in the opening frame.
Brown (6-16, 2-5) went on a 13-0 run to take a 32-29 lead with four minutes left in the half, but the Lions regrouped and finished the half up six, 40-34.
The Lions took control on the strength of Odunowo’s 13 points, as well as the team’s two-point shooting (15-for-22, 68%) and inside dominance (+10 points in the paint and +7 in second-chance points)
The visitors’ lead was even more impressive given that Columbia’s leading scorer, Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa, was held scoreless.
Senior guard Kimo Ferrari hit a quick three for the Bears to make it a three-point game, but the Lions used the first of its two big second half runs to open up a 49-37 advantage.
After its second big run made it 63-45 in Columbia’s favor, Brown mounted one last attack.
Another three-ball from Ferrari, as well as a step-back jumper and triple from junior guard Kino Lilly Jr. helped the Bears cut the deficit to single digits, 63-54, with just under five minutes left in regulation.
On the next possession, Columbia sophomore guard Avery Brown drove the lane for a bucket, picked up a foul and finished the successful old-fashioned three-point play.
Following two free throws from Brown senior forward Malachi Ndur, De La Rosa nailed a back-breaking triple from the top of the key and was fouled by junior forward/guard Aaron Cooley.
When the junior guard from the Dominican Republic completed the four-point play, the Lions were up 70-65 with 3:45 to go and the game was effectively over.
In the second half, Columbia followed its formula from the opening 20 minutes with 57% shooting (8-for-14) from inside the arc.
Columbia had four players in double figures with De La Rosa adding 14 second-half points, Brown totaling 11 and junior forward Nolan Robledo putting up three triples and 15 points off the bench. Defensively, five different players had between four and five rebounds, while Brown and Odunowo combined for seven steals.
For Bruno, Lilly scored a game-high 24 points and junior forward Nana Owusu-Anane added 14 points.
Jim Engles’ Lions, which have spent the past few seasons in the Ivy basement and were picked last this year, now have all-important road wins at Dartmouth and Brown as well as the next four games at Levien Gymnasium.
Mike Martin’s Bears, which started the day tied with Columbia for fourth, fall out of the upper division at the halfway point and are on the road for the next two back-to-back weekends.
As both teams head into the backstretch of Ancient Eight play, Columbia will welcome Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday, while Brown travels south for games against Princeton and Penn.