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PHILADELPHIA - The Columbia men's basketball team continued to show heart, rallying to tie the game after a second half deficit, but ultimately came up short for the second straight game as Penn held on to beat the Lions, 62-58, on Friday night at The Palestra.
Senior Brian Barbour scored 21 points, going 10-for-12 from the free-throw line to lead the Lions (9-8, 1-2). Mark Cisco chipped in 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while first-year Isaac Cohen pulled down a game-high nine boards.
Cisco scored the first six points of the second half to bring Columbia within three just 1:47 in to energize the squad. The Lions inched within 34-32 after John Daniels found Barbour open just outside the lane with 13:28 on the clock.
The Quakers (4-15, 1-2) answered with a 7-0 spurt to take their largest lead of the contest, 41-32, at the 11:37 marker. Penn still led by nine off of a Miles Cartwright bucket with 8:52 remaining before Columbia's came up with another rally.
Grant Mullins started a 9-0 run with a strong finish under the hoop, and Cisco completed the outburst with a pretty up-and-under layup to even the score, 45-45, with 6:54 remaining. However, on the next possession Darien Nelson-Henry completed an old-fashioned three-point play to put the score back in favor of the Quakers.
The Lions tied the score again only to see Cartwright thwart another comeback try with a layup to put his team ahead 50-48 with 5:35 to go. Columbia kept it a one-possession game over the next few minutes and Barbour delivered a clutch trifecta from the top of the key to draw even, 56-56, with 1:18 on the clock.
Cartwright misfired from the right wing on the next possession, but the Lions turned the ball over on the other end of the floor to give the ball back to the Quakers. Once again, Penn put the ball in the hands of Cartwright, and this time he converted on a step-back jumper from the left elbow with 30 seconds remaining to give his team the lead for good.
Barbour raced down the other end of the floor, but could not convert on a contested layup, and the Quakers went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe to walk away with the win.
In the first half, good work on the defensive end and on the glass propelled Columbia to an early 7-2 lead with 15:10 remaining after a jumper from the short right corner by Barbour.
The Quakers' Tony Hicks endd a scoring drought that lasted nearly six minutes with a three from the top of the key at the 13:16 juncture to snap Penn out of its slow start. From there, the tables turned and it was the Lions that struggled to score the basketball, hitting just one field goal over a stretch of 6:35, helping the Quakers claim an 18-13 lead with 5:40 before the half.
A Grant Mullins three pulled Columbia within four points, but Penn outscored the Lions 6-3 over the final 4:23 to take a 26-19 advantage into the locker room.
Cartwright netted 22 points for Penn. Nelson-Henry added 11 points and four blocks.
Columbia held a 39-26 advantage on the boards, but shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 3-for-17 from downtown. The Quakers converted on a 40.5 percent rate, and were just 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Up next for the Lions, a trip to Jadwin Gymnasium to face Princeton on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. The game can be seen live on the NBC Sports Network. Click here to find your local channel listing.