Updated, Wednesday, 1:14 a.m.
After a few minutes of play, it was never a question of whether or not the men’s basketball team would defeat Haverford in the Light Blue’s home opener Tuesday night.
Using their height to control the boards and score in the post, the Lions earned a commanding 74-40 win over the Fords. With help from a talented bench and two freshmen, the Lions improved their record to 2-0.
“We came out with the mindset that we were playing a good team—with any team, you can’t take it lightly,” sophomore forward Alex Rosenberg said. “We didn’t start off great, but about 10 minutes in, we started really putting the pressure on and finished out well.”
Size was a big factor underneath the basket, as Rosenberg and the rest of the Columbia big men dominated Haverford’s squad, which includes only one player over 6-foot-6.
In points in the paint, the Lions outdid the Fords 46-16, and boards followed the same pattern, as the Light Blue out-rebounded its opponent 41-22.
While the Light Blue frontcourt starters played a large role in Columbia’s dominance on Tuesday night, the contributions by the bench, which combined for 33 points, were also an important factor.
Freshman guard Isaac Cohen and freshman forward Zach En’Wezoh each had 10 points in their respective 19 minutes on the court, while senior forward John Daniels added another seven.
“I was really pleased,” head coach Kyle Smith said. “And Zach, when he finally got a bucket, the weight of the world was lifted off, and he started playing a little bit better.”
Of Columbia’s newest additions to the team, En’Wezoh and Cohen played the most on Tuesday night. Besides their help scoring and rebounding, the two freshmen also showed their athleticism with several big dunks.
“We’re going to need a little help, and we can go pretty deep with this team,” said senior guard Brian Barbour, who finished with just two points and four assists in 19 minutes. “I think they did a good job getting their nerves out last game, and Isaac played really well tonight on defense and rebounding.”
The Fords—who shot 32.7 percent from the field—had only five players score a bucket. One of the few positives for Haverford was the performance of forward Brett Cohen, who racked up a game-high 17 points.
While many of Haverford’s offensive struggles came from poor shooting, the Lions’ 2-3 zone defense also helped to limit the points scored against them.
Smith said he has been pleased with the way Columbia’s larger lineup and zone defense have worked in the team’s first two games this season. Senior center Mark Cisco added that while the new game plan is working so far, the Lions haven’t been truly tested just yet.
Though the win over Haverford was comfortable, the Lions’ 17.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc is something both coach and players said will need to improve when they take on more competitive teams.
Rosenberg, who was 0-3 from the three-point range, said he is hopeful that in Columbia’s next matchup against Marist on Saturday, the Lions’ outside shooting will be more consistent.