St. Francis College’s hopes of making conference history were dashed last Saturday in a 81–61 defeat by host Columbia.
The Terriers, looking to become the first Northeast Conference team to win 10 games entering league play, got off to a slow start before a defeat that snapped St. Francis’ four-game winning streak.
Columbia rolled to an 11–2 lead 4:00 into the game. Consecutive three-pointers by Alex Rosenberg and Meiko Lyles pushed the Lions’ advantage to 27–9 midway through the first half. Another Lyles’ three made it 45–29 with 2:00 left before the break.
“We had no energy to start,” St. Francis coach Glenn Braica said. “It was one of those games where everything was going wrong — missing layups, every bounce going their way.”
Columbia sophomore Maodo Lo led all scorers with 22 points and Rosenberg had 21, including four of six shooting from behind the arc.
Junior Jalen Cannon and senior Ben Mockford each scored 11 second-half points and finished with 15 apiece for the Terriers, who never got closer than 13 points.
St. Francis (9–6) played man to man, it played zone, it pressed and it used every player on the bench. Nothing Braica devised could slow down Rosenberg, Lo or Columbia’s up-tempo and unselfish attack. Columbia’s Isaac Cohen—who led all players with 14 boards—snatched the rebound and shoveled in a put-back at the buzzer to give Columbia a commanding 50–33 halftime lead.
“It’s a tough matchup for some of our young guys who are not used to guarding stuff like that,” Braica said.
Columbia (9–6) bested St. Francis in every way. It out-scored them from outside by hitting 45.5 percent of its threes (10 of 22), compiling 15 assists to just four for the Terriers. Columbia also shot 23 of 28 from the free throw line.
“We do a good job of moving — cutting hard — because that gets other guys open,” Rosenberg said.
Despite Braica’s efforts to regroup, Columbia had no intention of letting up after intermission. Behind seven points by Lo and two free throws by sophomore Grant Mullins, the Lions scored the first nine points of the second half and sprinted to a 59–33 lead, the largest of the game.
There is little time to for the Terriers squad to lick its wounds. Northeast Conference play begins on Thursday against visiting Long Island University in the first of two meetings.
“It’s now 0–0 [in the conference],” said Braica of the upcoming Battle of Brooklyn. “We’ve got to move on, get better in practice and get ready to play them.”
He remains confident in his squad despite them not being to earn a place in the history books. In goes into conference play with a win over Miami and near upset of a nationally ranked Syracuse.
“We’ve had it good,” Braica said. “If you looked at it before this season, the games we had to play, we’ve done very well.”