The absence of sophomore guard Grant Mullins opened up an opportunity for junior guards Meiko Lyles and Steve Frankoski to shine this weekend. Both players put together big performances to help the men's basketball team (17-10, 6-4 Ivy) defeat Brown, 70-68, and Yale, 62-46, to earn its first Ivy weekend sweep since 2009.
On Friday, against the Bears (14-10, 6-4 Ivy), it was Lyles' turn in the spotlight. In a game-high 35 minutes, he went five-for-five from beyond the arc and finished with 21 points.
“He does two things really well: He defends, and he bangs threes,” Light Blue head coach Kyle Smith said. “And he's grown into a good rebounder this year.”
“It was one of those nights,” Lyles said. “My teammates found me. They [the Bears] were really converging on the penetration, so a lot of shots were available tonight.”
Despite Lyles' performance, the Lions trailed, 37-36, at halftime. Brown forward Cedric Kuakumensah was effective in the post and from mid-range, scoring 10 points in the first half.
“Kuakumensah is awesome against us,” Smith said. “He's a career 37-percent shooter, and he just drills jumpers against us like it's nothing.”
The second half was neck-and-neck. Both teams relied heavily on their top scorers, who delivered. For Brown, guard Sean McGonagill scored 13 points, and forward Leland King scored 10. For Columbia, sophomore guard Maodo Lo scored 11, and junior forward Alex Rosenberg scored nine.
It was Lo who had the last laugh, though. With the score knotted at 68, Bruno guard Steven Spieth missed a three and fouled Lo on the rebound with 14 seconds left. Lo hit both free throws, McGonagill misfired on a desperation three, and Columbia won.
“This should be a confidence booster,” Smith said on Friday. “Hopefully we can build on it, because we're still not satisfied.”
On Sunday, against the Ivy League co-leaders, the Lions did just that.
They raced out in front of the Elis in the first half and led, 30-23, at halftime. Frankoski starred, scoring 14 points in the first half on six-for-nine shooting—mostly from outside or just inside the three-point line.
“It felt great,” Frankoski said. “Coach gives me that confidence to go out and shoot the ball. He calls me a home-run hitter—just to go out there and if I'm open, shoot it.”
The Light Blue's strong shooting in the first half also allowed Smith to go to his bench up front—especially important since Bulldog forward Justin Sears, despite an off night according to Yale head coach James Jones, still drew plenty of fouls. Junior center Cory Osetkowski, first-year center Conor Voss, first-year forwards Luke Petrasek and Jeff Coby, and sophomore forward Zach En'Wezoh all saw playing time at center for Columbia.
The Lions came out of the gates strong to start the second, building up a double-digit lead. A Bulldog rally briefly cut the lead to six around the nine-minute mark, but Columbia regrouped. Rosenberg hit a layup, Lo hit a pair of free throws, and Frankoski drained a three—a critical one, according to Smith, and his only one of the second half—to put Columbia up 50-37 with 6:48 to play. The Light Blue hit its free throws down the stretch to win.
The Lions will close their road schedule next weekend, playing at Dartmouth and Harvard.
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