Men’s basketball bounced back from an early deficit to take down Quinnipiac 86-78 in Hamden, Connecticut, on Monday.
Quinnipiac’s defense stifled the Light Blue in the first 10 minutes of play to claim a 21-17 lead with 9:41 left in the first half, but head coach Jim Engles’ squad responded with a 21-to-5 run over the next six minutes to claim a 12-point lead—one it kept for the rest of the contest.
Senior forward Luke Petrasek initiated the run with a dunk off a feed from junior guard Nate Hickman, and both players figured heavily into the Light Blue’s hottest stretch of the game. Petrasek scored 11 points in those six minutes, cutting off the ball to find open opportunities at the rim as well as spotting up for a three, and Hickman tallied five points en route to a game-high 23 points.
But Hickman was the only player on form prior to the Lions’ decisive run, as he hit for 9 of Columbia’s 17 points in the first 10 minutes.
Quinnipiac’s initial lead was largely fueled by a staunch three-quarter press defense that disrupted the Lions’ offensive flow. Meeting the Lions’ guards before they were able to set the offense, the Bobcats forced five turnovers in the first seven minutes of play.
Senior forward Jeff Coby contributed 12 points and five rebounds in his first game back from a hamstring injury. His return added some depth and physicality to a Columbia frontcourt that underperformed in its earlier matchup at St. Joe’s.
Fellow big man Petrasek carded his first double-double of the year with 18 points and 14 boards, while first-year Mike Smith totaled 13 points in the victory, more than half of which came in a second half that saw the Light Blue maintain a comfortable lead.
Quinnipiac never seriously threatened that advantage in the second period, as forward Chaise Daniels’ team-high 14 points proved insufficient for a Bobcats comeback. The Quinnipiac offense seemingly went stagnant in the critical moments and shot a miserable 25 percent on the night.
The contest completed the Lions’ three-game road trip to kick off the season. Columbia will return home with two wins and shift its sights to Army in Levien Gymnasium on Wednesday.