EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Columbia men’s basketball team gave the No. 2 team in the nation its best shot, but Michigan State found a way down the stretch to pull off a 62-53 victory on Friday night.
The Lions (1-2) received strong performances from sophomores Maodo Lo, who scored 12 points to lead the squad, and Isaac Cohen, who pitched in 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds to tie a career-high.
Columbia held a 31-27 edge on the glass and limited the Spartans (3-0) to 10 points in transition. Additionally, the Lions did not allow a 3-pointer after Manhattan knocked went 10-for-12 from downtown on Tuesday night against the Lions. It was the first time Columbia did not allow a three since Feb. 21, 2009 against Yale (0-for-6) and ended a string of 196 straight games of making a triple for Michigan State, dating back to a Feb. 12, 2008 contest against Purdue.
The Spartans raced out to a 9-0 lead before Cohen got the Lions on the board with a pair of free throws at the 15:17 mark. Columbia settled down after the first media timeout and cut the deficit to 11-7 after a strong take by Zach En’Wezoh with 12:26 to go in the first half.
A 7-0 run, sparked by a transition triple by Lo, gave the Lions a 14-11 lead with 9:50 on the clock. Michigan State regained the lead on a strong post move by Adrieian Payne, but answered after Lo canned another three and Alex Rosenberg extended the lead to 21-17 after slipping behind the defense with 6:02 before the half.
After the Spartans evened the score at 21-21 with just over three minutes left in the half, Kendall Jackson knocked down a three from the right wing and the Lions took a 26-22 cushion into the locker room.
Lo gave Columbia a 31-24 advantage with 18:52 remaining, but Michigan State forced a miss and turnover to get out on the fast break and pull within three just under two minutes later.
A pair of free throws by Meiko Lyles gave the Lions their largest lead of the game, 40-33, with 14:22 remaining. However, the Spartans continued to pound the ball inside and drew contact to get Columbia into foul trouble to get back into the game.
Gary Harris hit a floater to put Michigan State in front, 48-46, with 7:29 remaining, but a Lyles three knotting things back up at 51 just over a minute later. Payne gave the Spartans the lead for good, scoring five-straight and the Lions scored just two more points as Michigan State survived the upset scare.
The Lions will continue the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic next week in Portland, Ore. with games against North Texas on Nov. 21, Portland on Nov. 22 and Idaho on Nov. 23.