Sports | Basketball

Men's basketball topples Fairleigh Dickinson, comes back at Colgate

  • MAGIC MEIKO | Sophomore guard Meiko Lyles made an impact in the Light Blue's win over Fairleigh Dickinson with a career-high 25 points on Monday. Wednesday night, he recorded an equally impressive 21 points against Colgate.

The new year has brought only good news for the Columbia men’s basketball team, which has won 10 of its last 11 games.

The Lions put two more wins under their belt to start off 2012 with a 67-52 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (1-11) on Monday, followed by a 66-59 come-from-behind win at Colgate (5-9) on Wednesday.

Leading the Lions in both games was sophomore guard Meiko Lyles, who finished with a career-high 25 points against the Knights and tallied another 21 against the Raiders.

“When he’s really concentrating and he gets good looks, he knocks them down,” head coach Kyle Smith said. “He has a good defense every night, and lately he’s just been really effective offensively.”

Though Lyles led all scorers Wednesday night, he was slow to find an offensive rhythm, scoring only four of his 21 points in the first half.

As a team, the Lions struggled from the tipoff against a Colgate offense that was draining perimeter shots. According to Smith, the Lions have struggled against teams with good outside shooting, but Columbia made the necessary adjustments against Colgate to set up a comeback.

Halfway through the first period, the Raiders were enjoying a 19-9 lead—their largest of the game—when the Lions went on a 9-0 run, capped off by freshman guard Noah Springwater’s three-pointer.

But sophomore guard Pat Moore, who was the only Raider to finish in double digits with 18 points, defended Colgate’s lead with two back-to-back treys with eight minutes remaining in the half.

Despite the Raiders' efforts to maintain the advantage, freshman front court players Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski combined for seven points in the final three minutes of the half to tie the game at 29 going into the break.

Hoping to take the lead in the second period, Smith opted to play a smaller, faster lineup to combat Colgate’s defense and play a quick transition game.

“We gave up a little on the defensive end in rebounding, but I thought against Colgate we’d have to put guys out there that would make shots,” Smith said.

With junior center Mark Cisco and junior forward John Daniels on the bench for much of the second period, the Lions were outrebounded 35-29. But where Columbia lacked in boards, it made up for in points.

Streaking into the second period was Lyles, scoring the Lions’ first nine points of the half to put the Light Blue in a position to strike with the score tied at 38.

A layup by junior guard Brian Barbour with 12:54 remaining gave Columbia its first lead of the game, and though the Raiders tied the score two more times they were unable to regain the lead.

Colgate kept the game close thanks to Moore, as well as freshman guard Luke Roh and senior guard Mike Venezia, who both finished with eight points. But Columbia maintained composure in the final minutes to hand the Raiders their fourth consecutive loss.

Despite shooting just 3-12 from the field, Barbour’s free throw prowess late in the game helped secure the win as he went 6-7 from the line.

The victory moved the Lions record against Patriot League teams to 3-1, and in all three wins, the Lions have come back from a deficit of at least 10 points.

“They’ll stay with it and play until the final buzzer and as a coach you have to be really proud of that,” Smith said. “It’s great when you can do that. Some teams get down and they don’t have that ability, but these guys do.”

On Monday, the Lions demonstrated that not all of their wins are come-from-behind victories.

After an even start against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Lions pulled away with an 11-4 lead seven minutes into the contest.

The Knights struck back with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 14 halfway through the period, but that was as close as they came to overtaking the Light Blue.

After a timeout, the Lions responded with 13 unanswered points and headed into the locker room at half with a 31-17 lead.

The Light Blue did not slow down in the second half, pushing the margin to as much as 24 thanks to two big treys by senior guard Chris Crockett.

While the Knights were just 1-5 from beyond the arc, the Lions were 8-22 from three-point range.

“The games we make threes, we’re really tough to beat,” Smith said. “They’re going to give you some looks, and you have to knock them down.”

Junior forward Kinu Rochford led Fairleigh Dickinson with 15 points and was one of three Knights in double digits, while Lyles—whose 25 points led all scorers—was the only Lion to score more than nine.

In his 34 minutes on the floor, Barbour only went 1-7, but Smith said he’s confident that the junior guard will get back into a shooting mindset soon.

“He carries a big burden on the team handling the ball and guarding usually one of the best shooters on the perimeter every night,” Smith said. “I know he’ll come out of his slump.”

Though Lyles made up for Barbour’s trouble scoring this week, both shooters will be needed Sunday against an Elon team that Smith expects to be near perfect from the perimeter.

Tipoff in Elon, N.C. is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the Lions’ last game before Ivy League play.

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Anonymous posted on

Good story, Mr. Lau.  Columbia is 10-5 and poised to win an Ivy League Championship. Spec needs to pump up the student body for the opening games of the Ivy League season next weekend against Penn and Princeton. Why not give the the Lions some big-time coverage in Spec--front page stories and the like. After all, Columbia Basketball is the best show on Broadway. Go Lions!

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Anonymous posted on

After watching Armond Hill and Joe Jones led teams, it is a pure pleasure to watch a team coached by Kyle Smith! Don't leave us yet there is still more to do!

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Anonymous posted on

Nice little hot streak going :)

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