Men’s basketball will host Hofstra at Levien Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The Lions are coming off a hard-fought overtime victory over Colgate in their last outing. Senior forward Luke Petrasek totaled a team-high 24 points and nine rebounds in the victory, while junior guard Nate Hickman added 13 points and a game-winning triple as time expired.
“I’m thankful [Hickman] had the ball in his hands at the end and he was able to sink it,” head coach Jim Engles said.
Petrasek fell just short of a third double-double of the season, a nice bounce back after shooting a poor 24 percent against Army. Columbia is undefeated in games that Petrasek shoots greater than 50 percent from the floor.
“Luke is a multidimensional player. He does a lot of different things,” Engles said. “When he plays at that level, we’re a very good team.”
Despite a shaky performance in an 85-65 loss to Saint Joe’s and a blown lead in an 88-83 loss to Army, Engles is pleased overall with Columbia’s nonconference play thus far.
“These are experiences we need to have in order to learn from them,” Engles said. “Win or lose, we’ve seen a lot of good things happen over the last few games.”
Next, the Light Blue will set its sights on a tough Hofstra (4-3) team, which recently took third place in the 2016 Gulf Coast Showcase held in Estero, Florida. With notable wins over Bradley and South Dakota, the Pride is led by starting guards Eli Pemberton, Brian Bernardi, and Deron Powers—all double-digit scorers.
Defense, then, will be paramount for the Light Blue, but Engles expressed greater concern about having squandered sizable leads in the team’s last two games. He mentioned that the group will need to be stronger with the ball and more consistent on the offensive end in order to see more success down the stretch.
“Finishing,” Engles said. “That’s the one word we’re starting to use now. We’ve got to finish possessions, we’ve got to finish halves, we’ve got to finish games.”
Hofstra leads the all-time series 10-2, and will be an exciting test for Columbia at home on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.