In recent years, Columbia has occupied a prominent spot among the worst men’s basketball teams in the Ivy League. The Lions hit rock bottom two years ago, when they went 4-22, resulting in the firing of head coach Armond Hill. Last year, Hill was replaced by Joe Jones and the team improved its win total to 10. This season, the improvement has continued, and, as the Cornell men’s basketball team has learned, Columbia is no longer a pushover.
The Red dropped its first game to its in-state rival in three years last Saturday, falling 70-61 at Levien Gymnasium.
Senior captain Eric Taylor scored 15 points to lead the Red and classmate Cody Toppert added 13, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a ferocious second half by the Lions.
“I thought we had our opportunities. we were up five in the second half, we were playing pretty good basketball up until that point, inside out, good shots, we were playing decent defense,” said head coach Steve Donahue.
However, the game came down to who would make the most of their opportunities, and as it turned out, the Lions were up to the task.
“I thought Columbia was playing well too. We had five opportunities to go up more, where we stopped them, we came down, we get open looks and then don’t make it,” Donahue said. “They made open shots, we didn’t at that stretch.”
Columbia shot a sparkling 54 percent from the floor on the game and was able to make the most of limited changes, especially from long range. The Lions shot 76 percent from three-point range.
“They made 10 3’s on 13 attempts,” Donahue said. “It’s not like we were leaving them open all day, they took advantage of their opportunities.”
Jeremiah Boswell led three Lions players in double figures with 14 points, while Matt Preston scored 12 and Brett Loscalzo added 11.
For Cornell, freshman Will Scott contributed a career-high 11 points, including a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Sophomore Graham Dow also set a career high, racking up five steals.
While the Red has had the rest of this week to prepare for Saturday’s rematch with the Lions at Newman Arena, Columbia wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 69-63 victory against Navy on Monday night. Columbia has now equalled last year’s win total with 10, and will be looking for its first sweep of Cornell since the 2001-02 season on Saturday afternoon.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor