Despite poor shooting nights from key players in each of its first two games, the men’s basketball team (2-1) was still able to post convincing wins thanks to solid defense. But against a team well-suited to take advantage of its slower lineup and zone defense, the Light Blue could not pull out the win, falling 67-62 to Marist (1-2).
Head coach Kyle Smith noted that this loss, following back-to-back wins, shows his team is still a work in progress.
“It’s part of getting good—sustaining a little success,” he said.
The Red Foxes had the size to match senior center Mark Cisco and sophomore forward Cory Osetkowski inside. Although they played only one of their big men at a time, playing four guards allowed Marist to push the pace of attack, especially early in the game. It led Columbia 9-2 in fast break points. That difference excludes the times that, after a Columbia basket, the Red Foxes wasted no time inbounding and ran the ball up the court, scoring before the Light Blue had a chance to set up its defense.
And although the Lions were getting back in time to prevent those quick baskets later in the first half, Marist responded by becoming trigger-happy from three-point range, with success.
Senior guard and co-captain Brian Barbour identified a stretch about 17 minutes in as particularly important in this regard. Columbia led 29-17 with three minutes to go, but Marist guards Isaiah Morton and Devin Price nailed back-to-back threes to cut the Lions’ lead to two, and guard/forward Lewis Chavaughn nailed a jumper to tie the game on Marist’s next possession.
“I think that gave them a little life,” Barbour said. “And if you give a team like that a little life ... that’s when they start making more threes and building a little more confidence, like they did in the second half.”
“We just kind of got discombobulated,” Smith said.
Marist shot 8-20 from beyond the arc. Morton was 3-6 and Price was 4-9. They took advantage of Columbia’s zone defense, which stresses eliminating good shots inside for opponents, but is prone to surrender open long-range shots.
“We had a sluggish approach, I thought,” Barbour said. “That came back to bite us.”
Columbia did still play well enough to be neck-and-neck with Marist late in the game, thanks in part to free throws (notably Barbour, who went 10-10 from the line). The Red Foxes, instead of using threes, used layups and free throws to pull ahead.
“I think we played a little tight late,” Smith said. “They put a little expectation on us: ‘We’re supposed to win. We’re supposed to win.’ It’s tough. We’ve got to get through that.”
Columbia will play at Villanova on Tuesday.