PORTLAND, Ore. – The Columbia men’s basketball team held off a furious late rally by North Texas to pick up a 70-66 victory in its second game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Sophomore Maodo Lo paced the Lions (2-2) with a career-high 23 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Sophomore Grant Mullins chipped in 18 points and grabbed a career-best eight rebounds.
After racking up the frequent flyer miles on the way out to the Pacific Northwest, the Lions were dialed in from long-range in the first half, drilling 11-of-15 from beyond the arc to take a 39-29 lead at halftime.
Both teams started slowly out of the gate offensively before Columbia’s barrage of treys began and an 11-2 run gave the Lions a 20-14 edge with 9:52 left in the period. Lo and Mullins exchanged three’s later in the half to give Columbia its largest lead of the game, 34-21, at the 4:01 mark as they took a 10-point cushion into the locker room.
Isaac Cohen pushed the advantage to 50-38 with a layup at the 14:37 mark. From there, the Lions only hit on one field goal over the next six-plus minutes which allowed the Mean Green (2-2) to pull within two possessions.
A fade-away triple from the right wing by Vertrail Vaughns made it, 55-53, with 5:48 to go, but Columbia attacked the rim and went on a 10-1 spurt to bring the margin back up to 11 with 2:44 to play.
Vaughns scored nine points in less than a minute to bring North Texas within, 69-66, with 1:08 remaining in the game.
An offensive foul on Mullins gave the ball back to the Mean Green with 36 ticks left and the Mean Green got two 3-point tries up, but both were off the mark as the Lions grabbed the win.
Columbia held North Texas without a 3-pointer in the first half and had a string of 54:48 (going back to the second half its contest with Manhattan) without allowing a trifecta snapped by Vaughns, who scored 18 for the game, make with 10:36 left in the second half.
The Lions will continue the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tomorrow against the host Portland Pilots. Tip-off is set for 10:00 p.m. EST on the Ivy League Digital Network.