Sports | Men's Basketball

St. John’s takes down men’s basketball in Brooklyn

  • Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer
    leading the charge | Sophomore Grant Mullins led the Lions with 17 points in Columbia’s 65-59 loss to St. John’s.

Updated Dec. 28 at 5:45 p.m.

Playing at the Barclays Center for the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, the men’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with another strong opponent, but couldn’t hang on late and fell to St. John’s 65-59. 

The Red Storm (9-3) went into halftime with a 37-30 lead and came out of the break strong, using an 11-4 run to take a 48-34 advantage. But using its 2-3 zone defense, Columbia (7-6) was able to stop the bleeding. 

“We knew we were in for a dogfight,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said of the Light Blue after the game. “It’s a team that plays a very cohesive brand of basketball, and we tip our hat to their efforts today.”

The Lions used a 17-2 run to claw their way back and go ahead. With 7:25 left in the contest, junior forward Alex Rosenberg drove into the lane and converted a floater to tie it up at 50. He was fouled on the play, and completed the old-fashioned three-pointer with a free throw to put Columbia on top 51-50. It was the Light Blue’s first lead since its 5-4 advantage with 17:24 left in the first half.  

“We always stress taking care of the ball because we know our offense will come to us,” first-year forward Luke Petrasek said. “That’s basically all we were doing in that stretch, and it led to good things.”

“I noticed once we stopped their transition, it’s harder for them to get to us. And then we’re able to set up our offense,” sophomore guard Grant Mullins said. “And also just rebounding. If we rebound the ball and get second chances, then we give ourselves a good chance of scoring.”

But that lead would be short-lived, as St. John’s hit a layup to go back up by one with 6:53 on the clock, and used a 10-2 run to regain control of the game. Junior Meiko Lyles hit a three with a minute to go to make the score 60-56, but the Red Storm converted an and-one to get back up 63-56. Lyles would make another late trey, but it wouldn’t be enough, as St. John’s held on to win.

“When we were playing the way we wanted to, we had a pretty good shot,” Light Blue head coach Kyle Smith said. “And then when we were keeping them at half court, we were pretty good. But when it got stretched out, we didn’t do it.” 

Columbia hit nine of its 18 threes, but shot just 38 percent from the field overall and turned the ball over 11 times. St. John’s defense had plenty to do with those marks, as it came up with seven steals and eight blocks. 

“Their ability to block shots is impressive,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to simulate in practice, get ready for.”

“We held them to 38 percent, and that’s against a team that’s operating pretty effectively offensively,” Lavin said. “You’re not going to take everything away. Today they banged threes, but they shot 38 percent overall and we won the game.”

Though he was just 5-14 from the field and turned the ball over five times, Mullins led the Lions with 17 points. Three of his field goals came from beyond the arc. Rosenberg was second with 13 points, and Petrasek was the final Lion in double digits with 12. The rookie fouled out, but picked up six rebounds, four assists, and a block in the contest. 

The Lions will be back in action on Monday when they head to Hamilton, N.Y., to face Colgate.

Kiera Wood contributed reporting. | @MSmmns210


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Anonymous posted on

Smith is a good coach and has good players. CU will not finish 8 in the league as forecast.

Larry posted on

Their ability to overcome a big deficit away from Levien,
vs. a better team, was impressive. Smith's D adjustment to the zone was smart.
Whatever they do in future games, they'll be competitive, good to watch. And, Fran should help.

Anonymous posted on

This is a team that will surprise the Ivy League.

Anonymous posted on

It will be hard to win if we keep starting only 4 players who can shoot the basketball. It puts us at a tremendous disadvantage. There are at least 3 subs with shooting and rebounding talent who should be the fifth starter.

Anonymous posted on

1. great effort by the players. they stuck together and made maximum effort.
2. why is Cory at the top of the key. he is an offensive quadruple no threat from there: can't shoot, drive to the basket, pass to cutters, or rebound. coach smith did the same thing with the last center and it doesn't work. the coach's offense gets very good looks for the guards, but nothing for forwards or center.
3. Luke is already the only real threat on offense. why is he stuck in the corner looking like a bystander?
4. Coach, please, teach Alex to look at the rim when he releases the ball on his drives. he is throwing it up and hoping.
5.major disappointment is we thought we would be able to recruit top Ivy talent. one Ivy-elite player a year is pathetic.
6. body language counts. coach smith, that hang dog, slumped-over look (now adopted by most of your assistants) sends the wrong message to the players and their fans.
Go Lions!!!

coach Haynes - RICE HS posted on

Columbia athletics can be productive and win, but your coaches must learn how to take advantage of and make use of all university facilities. Every game we have lost this year we have not been out played or coached but out hustled and muscled. Proper conditioning is crucial at any level of sports, we have an olympic size pool for aquatics training and a brand new football training facility for strength and conditioning. If you make the commitment to train your student-athletes while the season progresses you will develop stronger, faster and mentally tougher athletes. There's no short cuts to IVY league championships in any sports great games against Michigan St. and St.Johns but both should have been victories.

deja vu alum posted on

coach smith has the kids playing sound defense and patient offense. petrasek is a good passing big man (reminds me a little of Kit Mueller who played point center for princeton 20 years ago) and they have some smart players who can shoot the three. they are young so i look forward to next year when they will be more experienced. the one thing they are missing as the st johns and michigan st games showed is the go to guy that can break down a defense when the shot clock winds down late in games. would echo that smith needs to watch the body language when things aren't going his way down the stretch.