Tipping off against the American University Eagles on Saturday, February 16 in Washington D.C., the Colgate Raiders looked to extend their winning streak to four. The then 16-10 Raiders needed overtime to overcome the then 13-11 Eagles, but got it done with big games from sophomore guard Jordan Burns and junior forward Rapolas Ivanauskas.
The Raiders started off cold from the field, missing their first three shots, while the Eagles took advantage for an early 9-0 lead. Burns, however, refused to let the game get away, burying 3 three-pointers in a three-minute span to cut the Eagles’ lead down to 16-11. A pair of layups from senior forward Malcolm Regisford further cut down the Eagles’ lead, with the Eagles clinging on to an 18-15 lead with 11:09 minutes left in the first half. This, however, would be the closest the Raiders would get in the first half win streak. The Eagles responded with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 25-15. After trading baskets for most of the remaining half, Burns buried another three-pointer to once again cut the Eagles lead to three, 34-31 with 1:08 minutes remaining in the half. After a pair of Eagles free-throws, the Raiders went into the locker room down 36-31.
“Winning teams don’t make excuses; they come ready to play and find ways to win. So we will talk about it and watch the film and do everything in our control to play our best any time we are on the court,” Raiders Head Coach Matt Langel said about the slow start.
The second half opened with the teams trading baskets for ten minutes, before the Eagles started pulling away, opening up a seven-point, 59-52 lead. A three-pointer from first-year guard Tucker Richardson cut the Eagles lead to four, 61-57, with 7:35 minutes left. A 9-5 run from the Raiders capped off by a three from junior forward Will Rayman, tied up the game at 66-66 with 3:58 left on the clock, the first time the game was tied up since the opening buzzer. With a 5-2 run, the Eagles led 71-68 with 1:05 left in the game. Senior guard Francisco Amiel then proceeded to hit a three-pointer, his first make of the game, sending the game into overtime. Rapolas took over in OT, scoring 9 points and leading the Raiders to an 83-81 win.
“This group definitely has confidence in one another and a commitment to finding a way. It has certainly proved itself of late in a variety of ways to include guys making big shots, getting critical stops and executing good game management late,” Langel said.
The Raiders were paced by a 20-point effort from Burns, to go along with six assists and six made three-pointers. Rapolas poured in 19 points, grabbing five boards and two steals along the way. Senior center Dana Batt was the only other Raider to score in double-figures, contributing 12 points, as well as protecting the rim with four blocks. The Raiders as a team shot 13-24 (54.2 percent) from deep.
Despite struggling in away games earlier in the season, the Raiders have been turning it around with the Patriot League Tournament looming, having won four of their last five away games. The win in D.C. raised the Raiders conference record to 9-5, third in the Patriot League. The Raiders played Bucknell on Tuesday night and will play Navy on Saturday, February 23 for Senior Day.
“All games at this time of year are big. Our guys have been determined since losing last year to put ourselves in the best position to compete for a championship again this year and the games this week certainly impact that,” Langel said.
Contact Ignacio Villar at firstname.lastname@example.org.