Men’s basketball routed Maine by 25 points on Monday 98-73, posting its highest scoring total of the season.
The Light Blue never once looked back after it took a 13-11 advantage via a three-pointer from first-year guard Jake Killingsworth with 13:20 left in the first half. The win was also the Lions’ second victory of the season over a Division I opponent since defeating Colgate on Nov. 26.
Three-point shots were a hallmark of the Lions’ first half, as they drained seven of 10 attempts in the first 10 minutes of the game to establish a 28-16 lead. Head coach Jim Engles said he believed that crucial stretch—during which the Lions’ play helped contribute to the the team’s 12 made three-point field goals, their second-highest three-point total of the year—was a particularly impressive display in the context of the season.
“That’s probably the best we’ve shot the ball all year,” Engles said. “I think we had 22 assists, and we made 12 threes—that’s a pretty efficient offense right there.”
Key to the offensive output was the scoring duo of first-year guard Mike Smith and senior forward Luke Petrasek, which dropped a collective 43 points. Both players found success on the perimeter and the inside, as each hit multiple treys, and Smith penetrated the Maine defense to create opportunities for himself and find Petrasek.
The Light Blue’s coach chalked up much of Smith’s success to pushing the ball and making plays for his teammates.
“Mike got us going [in transition] to start the game, and we were able to maintain that momentum,” Engles said. “The big guys are opening up some of the lanes for our other guys. We did a good job in transition.”
That aggressive play helped the Lions go into halftime with a 49-39 lead, where they drew 15 fouls on Maine and got into the bonus with nearly 10 minutes still left in the first half.
The Lions ended up going 11-for-19 from the charity stripe in that half, an uncharacteristically low clip, but they rebounded in the second half by hitting 10 of 11 attempts.
Fouls plagued the Black Bears yet again in that period, but they remained in contention to open the half, shrinking the Light Blue lead to six, 49-43 with 18:44 left in the game. Just as they edged closer, Engles’ squad went on a 25-to-9 run, which Columbia used to gain an even more prodigious lead—a 20-point 73-53 lead with 11:16 left to go in the game.
From there, the Light Blue continued to dominate on offense and limited some of Maine’s key players on the opposite end of the court, almost exclusively employing a zone defense. The defense also effectively limited Maine’s leading scorer, guard Wes Myers, to just 2 of 12 shooting from the floor and 10 points total.
With Myers in check, the Black Bears’ Danny Evans and Marko Pirovic picked up the slack by scoring 16 and 13, respectively. But their efforts weren’t enough to deny the Light Blue from snapping a two-game skid.
“We lost the last two games, but actually this is the best three-game stretch that we’ve played,” Engles said. “This is the right time of the year where we’re hoping to develop some chemistry both offensively and defensively. We’ll have one more nonconference game, and hopefully we’ll be ready for conference play.”
The Lions will return to Levien Gymnasium to play Howard on Saturday with tipoff set for 7 p.m.