VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Columbia men's basketball team held a four-point lead at halftime and never looked back, defeating Villanova at The Pavilion, 75-57, on Tuesday evening. It marks the first time the Lions (3-1) defeated a BIG EAST squad since November 30, 1985, when Columbia beat Seton Hall, 85-65.
In a well-rounded team effort, Columbia received a career-high 21 points from sophomore Alex Rosenberg. Sophomore Steve Frankoski went 5-for-10 from three-point range and posted 15. Senior Brian Barbour posted 14 points, after going 12-for-12 from the foul line, eight rebounds, seven assists, and added three steals.
Columbia shot a blistering 50 percent from behind the arc in the second half, connecting on 7-of-14, and making 11-of-31 for the game.
Columbia came out firing in the second period, with Frankoski and Rosenberg each hitting threes and Mark Cisco adding a jumper to push the lead out to, 38-27, with 13:24 to play.
Columbia traded baskets, often three-pointers for two-pointers, with Villanova, until a 7-2 run by the Wildcats cut the lead to five with 8:29 on the clock. Every time Villanova got close, Columbia knocked down a big shot. A Grant Mullins three extended the lead back to 48-41 with 7:26 remaining.
Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono hit a big trey on the next play to cut the lead to five again, but Rosenberg answered with a layup and Mullins added a triple 30 seconds later to push the lead back out to 10.
Arcidiacono hit two free-throws to cut the lead to single digits again, but Columbia got a huge offensive rebound from John Daniels, which resulted in a Mullins three with just over four minutes left in the game.
From that time on, Villanova was forced to foul and Columbia maintained possession for more than two minutes. Then it was a free throw shooting clinic, put on by Barbour, Rosenberg and Mullins, who sank 18-of-18 in the final four minutes, icing the Columbia win.
In the first half, Frankoski drilled his first two three's in the first 3:53 to give the Lions an 8-3 early advantage. Columbia played relentless defense to maintain that lead for much of the first period, but could not increase the lead by more than two possessions. With 6:42 Darrun Hilliard knocked down a trey to put the Wildcats on top, 19-17.
Villanova remained in front until Barbour found Frankoski from the left wing for three to put the Lions back on top, and Columbia took a 26-22 advantage heading into the break.
The win was also just the second all-time against the Wildcats dating back to December 29, 1969, when Columbia claimed a 76-64 victory.
Next up for the Lions, a trip to San Francisco, where they will open the USF Hilltop Challenge against Wayland Baptist on Friday, November 23. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. eastern time.