Friday night offered an opportunity for Columbia and Manhattan to both get road wins and get back on track. Sure the Lions and Jaspers were playing away from the comfy confines of Levien and Draddy Gymnasiums, but they were playing at Penn and Siena, two teams that have struggled this season.
Both teams though followed similar scripts as they got down by big margins and then tried desperately to climb back into the game only to fall a possession or two short.
After a disastrous first half, during which the Lions had nine turnovers, Columbia was down seven. Penn got the lead to as many as nine points before Columbia started chipping away.
But while Brian Barbour’s three tied the game with 1:18 remaining, the Lions never managed to grab the lead and solid free throw shooting by Miles Cartwright down the stretch sealed the 62-58 win for the Quakers.
Columbia was done in by the first half turnovers and just a terrible overall day from the field at the Palestra. The Lions shot 19-56 from the field (3-17 from three). Their 0.87 points per possession is a new low for the season. Brian Barbour was 5-16 from the field but scored 21 points thanks to 10-12 shooting from the free throw line. Alex Rosenberg and Grant Mullins combined to shoot 4-17 from the field and score 13 points along with five turnovers.
The good news for Columbia is that the Lions get a chance to rebound tomorrow night at Jadwin Gymnasium against Princeton. That task will be even tougher. The sight lines are odd and the Tigers are very talented. But at 1-2 in the Ivy League, it’s almost a must-win if Columbia wants to stay in the race.
Manhattan fell 66-63 at Siena, but the Jaspers at least have an extra day and a conference tournament to fall back on come the middle of March. The loss was a 23-point turnaround from the big win Steve Masiello’s team had when the Saints came to Draddy.
In this one Manhattan just couldn’t get anything going offensively until the very end of the game. The Jaspers trailed 56-44 when O.D. Anosike picked up his fourth personal foul. Manhattan used that opportunity to be more aggressive and the combination of Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado caught fire. The Jaspers even briefly took the lead, 59-58 on a tip-in by Brown and again 61-60 on an Alvarado layup.
But it was the beleaguered Saints that made the plays down the stretch to win their second MAAC game in a row. Rob Poole’s three-point play was the big one in Siena gutting out a home win to move into a tie with the Jaspers at 4-7 in MAAC play.
A sequence early in the first half when Trenity Burdine was able to dominate the game really hurt Manhattan. He scored eight straight points to open the second half and finished with 14 points in the game. The Jaspers are struggling to cover the second big man when Roberto Colonette isn’t in the game, but they’re struggling to score when he is.
Nobody in the Jaspers front court though played well in this game. Brown scored 13 points on 13 shots and had just four rebounds going up against Anosike. Colonette, Ryan McCoy and Emmy Andujar combined to go 2-7 for seven points. Manhattan just can’t win with production like that from the front court.
Alvarado had a solid game even though he only played 26 minutes after tweaking his ankle. He came alive late and finished with a team-high 16 points.
Manhattan gets to return home on Sunday to take on St. Peter’s. It’s a good opportunity for a victory. It’s always better to play at home.