By John Fanta,
NEW YORK — There was good news and bad news for Columbia through 20 minutes of action on Sunday against Navy. The good news? The Lions shot 58 percent from the field and 71 percent from three-point land in a 40-point half. The bad news? Despite not having an answer for Columbia’s offense, Navy only trailed by eight at the break.
The Midshipmen got their defense going, and the script flipped, as Navy stole one from the Lions at Levien Gymnasium, 73-68. For Jim Engles’ team, a frustrating 1-9 start to the season continued. CU showed what it’s capable of, but in the first five minutes of the second half, surrendered a 12-4 run that put away the momentum they gained.
“Something we need to rectify is the flow of the game in the second half, both offensively and defensively,” said Engle. “We haven’t started the second half well defensively, and then offensively, we haven’t been able to gain any momentum and get control back in the game.”
While Navy got hot behind senior Shawn Anderson, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, the Lions went cold. Columbia shot just 34 percent from the field and 2-for-11 from three-point range in the final 20 minutes.
“We talked about it (post-game in the locker room),” said Engles. “If we were playing first half basketball, we’d be 10-0. But we’re 0-10 in the second half. That’s the pattern that has shown.”
A bright spot for the Lions? Mike Smith. The sophomore point guard continues to be the real deal for CU. He started 9-for-9 from the field and finished 11-for-15 with 28 points and five assists.
“Mike’s been playing really well offensively,” said Engles. “He’s keeping us in the game.”
The weakness for the Lions? Rebounding.
“We’re getting outrebounded by teams by double-digits on our home court,” said Engles, whose team got beat on the glass, 36-26. “We have to create a presence around the basket both offensively and defensively.”
Tied at 64 with less than two minutes left, Anderson took control for Navy. The Pennsylvania native hit two free throws, grabbed a rebound off a missed three, and drilled a lay-in with 33 seconds left to make it a 68-64 lead. With 15 seconds left in a two-point game, Bryce Dulin took the inbounds pass and was called for traveling. Columbia called on the hot hand of Smith again, but a 15-foot pull-up rimmed out and was rebounded by the Midshipmen.
Standing at 9-3 for the first time since 2006-07, Navy has an 11-day layoff for final exams before hosting Lipscomb on Dec. 21. Columbia visits Boston College on Tuesday. The 7-3 Eagles are riding a high after an 89-84 win over top-ranked Duke.