“It hurt—bad,” head coach Kyle Smith said after the men’s basketball team dropped a close conference game for the second consecutive night. After losing to Penn 66-64 on Friday, the Lions (11-7, 0-2 Ivy) once again found themselves on the wrong end of a tight contest, falling to Princeton 62-58.
The games were eerily similar. In both matchups, Columbia held a narrow lead at the half that it saw slip away during a short lapse in the second half. On both nights the Light Blue found itself down by eight with about a minute and a half to play and staged comebacks that fell just short. Against both teams, junior point guard Brian Barbour put up a career-high 25 points and drove the Lions’ last-minute efforts.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Barbour said. “Coming off that bounce back from Penn, I thought we had them—up six—and then that big swing when they went up eight really hurt us. We had a couple turnovers in a row there, which is what I think started it.”
Columbia struggled against Princeton’s (10-8, 1-1 Ivy) defensive pressure the whole night, turning the ball over 15 times. The Tigers capitalized on those, scoring 19 points off of the turnovers.
Much like the game against the Quakers, the first half was close throughout. The teams traded threes to open the contest, with freshman forward Alex Rosenberg opening the scoring at 18:33 and Princeton guard Douglas Davis responding with a trey of his own less than a minute later.
Neither squad took a lead larger than four in the first half. Princeton held a slight lead for most of the first eight minutes, but the Lions took the lead back with five consecutive points from Barbour.
The Tigers came back and held the lead for most of the rest of the half, but Barbour once again turned it on when the Lions needed him, scoring six straight points to put them up by one. After two Princeton free throws, sophomore guard Meiko Lyles scored his only field goal of the night to give Columbia a 24-23 advantage at the half.
Lyles is the team’s second best scorer, averaging 10.2 points per game after scoring just 15 points this weekend. Against Princeton, he was 1-for-9 from the floor.
“I don’t know,” Smith said of Lyles' struggles. “He’s a good player—he just had a bad weekend. I don’t know what happened there. He’ll come out of it.”
Unlike in the game against Penn, Columbia held onto its lead for much of the second half. However, after a three-pointer by Barbour put his team up by six with 11:11 to play, the Lions again went cold. During the next six minutes, Princeton went off on an 11-0 run that Columbia was ultimately unable to recover from.
Barbour led all scorers with 25 points, while sophomore guard T.J. Bray had the most for Princeton with 12. Junior center Mark Cisco had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Lions and chipped in 12 points. Rosenberg was the Light Blue’s only other player who scored in double digits, with 10 points.