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ITHACA, N.Y. - The Columbia men's basketball team kicked off Ivy League play with a 67-58 victory at Cornell in front of a national televised audience on Saturday afternoon. The Lions (9-6, 1-0) played a strong second half, and used a 13-0 run to propel them to victory.
Columbia had a number of players have big games, led by senior Mark Cisco, who poured in 18 points and nine boards. Senior Brian Barbour seemed to come up with big buckets whenever the team needed it, and finished with 16 points. First-year Isaac Cohen came off the bench and provided a huge lift, dishing out a career-high seven assists and adding four rebounds.
The Big Red (8-10, 0-1) took a 9-4 lead after a triple by Cornell's Nolan Cressler from the left corner with 15:52 on the clock. Sophomore Steve Frankoski started and finished an 8-0 spurt with a pair of treys to give Columbia its first lead of the day, 12-9, with 14:21 remaining in the half.
After trading baskets over the next several minutes, Cohen pulled down a defensive rebound and found Frankoski for a pull-up jumper in transition to give the Lions a 19-17 lead. After another Big Red charge, Barbour took over, scoring five-straight to put Columbia on top, 25-23, at the 6:52 mark.
Senior John Daniels also played a pivotal role in the Lions first half success. The Sioux City, Iowa product, found Mark Cisco under the basket for an easy two. On the next possession, Daniels threw down a two-handed slam to put the Lions ahead by two with 3:23 before the break, and Columbia remained in front at the half, 34-31.
Cornell netted the first four points of the second half to take a one-point lead just over two minutes in, and the teams continued to match each other shot-for-shot over the next several moments. Shonn Miller drilled a short jumper to give the Big Red a 43-42 lead with 12:37 remaining, but that would be the last time Cornell held a lead in the contest.
With the shot clock winding down, Cohen fed Cisco for a reverse layup, then pulled down a defensive rebound which led to another Frankoski three-pointer to kick-start the offensive outburst. A 12-footer from the left corner by Cisco put Columbia on top, 55-43, to give the Lions its largest lead of the ballgame with 7:38 on the clock.
Columbia maintained its poise under the Big Red's pressure defense and maintained its comfortable cushion the rest of the way to walk away with the win.
The Lions shot 53.5 percent from the field and were 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from downtown. Frankoski scored in double-figures for the sixth consecutive game.
The Lions return to Levien Gymnasium to take on the Big Red on Saturday, January 26. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling (888) LIONS-11.