Updated on March 8 at 11:46 p.m.
Columbia ended one of its best seasons in recent memory on a sour note, falling to Princeton at home, 74-64.
The Lions’ (19-12, 8-6 Ivy) loss was one of the more lopsided defeats of their conference season, as the Tigers (19-8, 7-6 Ivy) were in control pretty much cover-to-cover, aside from a brief Columbia run in the middle of the first half. Columbia had trouble getting things going on both sides of the ball. The Lions were 0-for-9 from three in the first half, and gave Princeton a lot of open looks, particularly in the open floor.
“Defense in transition was very poor tonight,” Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said. “That was disappointing, because that’s not getting beat, that’s beating yourself.”
Princeton jumped ahead early behind guard T.J. Bray, who finished with 25 to lead all scorers, and led by double digits, 21-11, with 9:11 left in the half.
But the Lions rallied and after a dunk and an easy two in the paint from junior center Cory Osetkowski cut the Tigers lead to 23-20. Sophomore guard Isaac Cohen then made it 23-22 with a reverse layup.
The Tigers had a scary moment on their next possession. Princeton forward Hans Brase faked Osetkowski into the air, and the 6-foot-11 Light Blue center landed on top of him as Brase crumpled to the floor. Brase would eventually walk off under his own power, and was back on the court to start the second half.
Princeton played well without Brase, and entered the break up by eight, 32-24, after a late first-half push.
Osetkowski cut the Tigers lead to six with the first basket of the second, and though Columbia got within five shortly thereafter, Princeton dug in and didn’t let the Light Blue get any closer than that.
Osetkowksi, who finished with 19 points, was one of Columbia’s bright spots as Princeton made things difficult for the Lions.
“We both run similar offenses, so we know how to guard their stuff, they know how to guard our stuff,” Osetkowski said. “They did a good job of denying and making us drive, and they were very sticky on the defensive end—sound defensively.”
With the Lions struggling to get into a groove, the Tigers led by double digits for much of the second half. Columbia kept competing until the final buzzer—Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson even said that “the last three minutes was different from the rest of the game”—but it was too little, too late as Princeton comfortably closed out the win.