SAN FRANCISCO - The Columbia men's basketball team held off a feisty Wayland Baptist team, 75-63, on Friday night in the opening game of the Hilltop Classic. Senior Mark Cisco scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and handed out four assists to lead the Lions' (4-1) balanced attack.
First-year Grant Mullins stepped into the starting lineup and chipped in 14 points. Sophomore Alex Rosenberg added 11 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
The first half was a feeling out process for both squads that saw 12 combined turnovers. The Pioneers jumped out to an 8-4 advantage with 16:27 on the clock after a pair of traditional three-point plays converted by Eric Milam.
From that point, Columbia's defense began to dig in and the Lions took the lead for good with 10:26 left in the first half after a tip-in by Cisco. First-year Maodo Lo drilled a trey with 5:55 before the half and Columbia held a 10-point advantage heading into the break.
Senior Brian Barbour hit a three-pointer at the end of the first half and the start of the second frame to put the Lions on top, 39-26. Sophomore Cory Osetkowski also played a key role in Columbia's second half run, posting four points and a pair of blocks to push the lead to 45-30 with 17:08 remaining.
The Lions remained in control until a pair of layups by Milam pulled Wayland Baptist within eight at the 7:37 mark. After a timeout, the Lions ran the offense through Cisco on their next two possessions, which led to three's by Mullins and Rosenberg to balloon the lead back to 60-46 with 6:16 remaining.
Another triple by Rosenberg gave Columbia its largest lead of the game, 71-52, with 2:14 left to effectively put the game out of reach.
The Lions shot well from the floor, converting on a 50-percent clip. Columbia played a mix of man and zone to throw Wayland Baptist off balance and force 16 turnovers.
The Lions will wrap up their west coast swing on Saturday, November 24, when they take on San Francisco. Tip-off is slated for 10:00 p.m. eastern time