A strong start, some heady play and an unexpected injury all helped Columbia capture its first win of the season over Manhattan, 59-41 on Saturday at Draddy Gymnasium.
While Brian Barbour shot 8-21 for the Lions and scored 22 points, it was his best outing of the season. Constantly pushing the ball against the Manhattan (3-3) press he had four assists and only one turnover, which came on a five-second violation early in the second half.
Columbia’s ability to handle the press allowed the Lions to get out to a 13-point lead just six and a half minutes into the game. Freshman Alex Rosenberg got his first career start for the Lions and showed great patience in hitting two big threes and scoring 11 points. He also recorded two assists, three steals and two turnovers.
“I said to one of my assistants today, ‘Which way do you think he’s going to go?’,” said Columbia (1-4) head coach Kyle Smith. “Because there is usually no in betweens on these. The first start you either play really well or you don’t and I’m glad he decided to play well. He deserves it, so it was good to see him produce.”
The Jaspers made a run in the second half and closed to within five with 14:57 remaining, but Columbia then responded with a 14-0 run to push its lead back up to 19, the biggest of the game. Barbour scored seven points during the run.
“I think we had a lot of composure tonight and handled that press well,” Barbour said. “We picked and chose shots when we beat it. … We played better as a team today. It’s getting to know the players you’re playing with a little more every day. All the guys are doing a great job of coming together.”
The Lions turned the ball over just 11 times against the Jaspers’ press. Columbia was able to offset that with 16 offensive rebounds, including 10 in the first half alone. This was after the Lions were out rebounded 38-27 and 17-6 on the offensive boards in their last game against Stony Brook.
“It took us a half for us against Stony Brook to really put everything together and get gritty and come up with the ones where the guards are coming in,” said John Daniels, who had 11 boards for Columbia. “Today we did a good job of staying consistent and doing it for 40 minutes instead of 25.”
Manhattan was hampered by the absence of star forward George Beamon, who head coach Steve Masiello decided to have sit out of the game in order to rest a thigh contusion. Without Beamon to play centerfield in the back of the zone or his 14.8 points per game on offense the Jaspers struggled at both ends. Manhattan turned the ball over 21 times and shot 11-42 from the field.
“He’s our leading scorer, our leading assist man and he makes the team go. He’s our energy,” said Rhamel Brown, who scored seven points and blocked five shots. “We tried to play the same despite not having George and that’s no excuse for what happened tonight.”
Roberto Colonette scored 10 points and Emmy Andujar grabbed 10 boards, but overall there weren’t many bright spots for Steve Masiello’s squad.
“They got us in their type of game,” Masiello said. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t play smart basketball.”
Manhattan has one more game at Penn on Tuesday before conference play starts at Rider on Dec. 2. Columbia takes on Swarthmore on Monday before heading out west to take on Loyola Marymount.
Notes: Seven Manhattan players had at least two turnovers. … It was a 62-possession game, so neither offense played particularly well. … Columbia had to deal with foul trouble in the second half and Manhattan was 17-23 from the line.