NEW YORK - The Columbia men's basketball team held off a pesky Colgate squad in their first game of the 2013 calendar year, defeating Colgate, 66-59, on Wednesday at Levien Gymnasium.
The Lions' (7-5) backcourt led the way with both Brian Barbour and Grant Mullins scoring 15 points to lead the team to its second straight win. Barbour also dished out six assists to go with three steals. Mullins shot an effiicient 4-for-8 from the field and knocked down a pair of key triples in the second half to keep Columbia in front.
From the opening tip, Columbia found themselves in a tough battle as both teams planned to impose similar styles of play on one another. The outside shot fell early for Colgate, knocking down a pair if three-pointers in the first four minutes of play. After the Raiders jumped out to an early 8-6 lead, the Lions used a couple of strong drives to the basket to raise the intensity on the offense end. Columbia put together a 15-4 run to take a 21-12 lead near the midway point of the first half.
The Raiders battled back in the final minutes of the half, using the transition game to trim the Columbia lead to 30-27 at the break. Murphy Burnatowski posted seven points and three rebounds to anchor the Colgate offense.
The Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 run to begin the second half, led by Pat Moore, who scored five straight points to give Colgate a 34-30 lead. Alex Rosenberg would end the run with a three from the top key, igniting the Columbia offense. The three-point shooting for the Lions propelled another Columbia run in the game, as they knocked down six from behind the arc in the second half.
Noah Springwater drained two three-pointers for a season high six points to help the Lions fight off the Raiders, who regained the lead 48-44 midway through the second half. Colgate continued to push the ball at a fast pace led by Burnatowski and John Brandenburg, who both finished with 13 points on the night.
With just less than five minutes to play, Colgate once again took a slim lead, 54-53. Columbia responded with a right corner three-pointer from Steve Frankoski to regain a 56-54 advantage, a lead they would never relinquish.
The difference in the game was ball security, as the Lions committed just seven turnovers on the game. Columbia posted six steals and forced 13 turnovers, leading to 16 points.
The Lions return to action on Saturday, January 5, at Army. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m.