BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Down 27-21, Columbia rallied to tie the game. Down 37-31 Columbia rallied to tie the game. But down 47-41, the Lions could not rally again, and lost to LIU 70-61.
Down the stretch, the Blackbirds drew Columbia foul after Columbia foul, getting more than 20 more opportunities at the line than the Lions. Combined with good 50-percent shooting, they cruised over the last seven minutes.
At the half, the Blackbirds lead the Lions 24-19. Both teams have been pretty good defensively.
The Blackbirds are forcing Columbia to work its offense through players other than freshman guard Grant Mullins and senior guard Brian Barbour (who had nine of his team's first 10 points, but has not even attempted a shot since). Sophomore forward Alex Rosenberg is 0-5 from the field, and Columbia is 8-23, with all of its points coming from Barbour, Mullins, and senior center Mark Cisco.
Columbia struggled defensively when LIU passed the ball around quickly (the same tactic Villanova coach Jay Wright said the Lions used to great effect in their win over his Wildcats). The Blackbirds used two runs to score most of their points: At the beginning of the half, they scored eight points quickly, and again toward the end, they scored seven unanswered. They are 10-22 from the field, with nine assists on those 10 shots.
Columbia men's basketball (4-2) faces LIU Brooklyn (0-4) tonight. Both teams suffered big losses the last time they were in action, LIU to No. 8 Kentucky and the Lions at San Francisco. The Light Blue beat the Blackbirds in Manhattan last year, 73-63.
Check out our three keys to the game below. You can follow the action on Twitter @CUSpecSports.
1. Three-point shooting
The Blackbirds are only shooting 30 percent from beyond the arc while allowing their opponents to hit 50 percent of their three-point attempts. The Lions have the potential to be deadly from that range.
2. Active defense
The Lions have posted 10 or more steals twice this season. Last year, the Columbia defense was +11 in turnover differential. That sort of difference should come in handy in stopping LIU's offense, which has scored at least 74 points in all four games this season.
3. Keep energy up
The team may have been a little tired during its California swing, and as a result San Francisco was able to pull away. The Lions can't afford to let LIU's offense get up and running.