Columbia finishes out season on high note

It wouldn’t have fit into Columbia’s season if it wasn’t close, so the Lions let Dartmouth hang around for 38 minutes before two big threes from Brian Barbour and Meiko Lyles finished off the Big Green.

“It’s crazy. I thought we played a tough game and we couldn’t get away from them,” said Columbia head coach Kyle Smith. “You look at the box score it just looks like we played an unbelievable game and we barely could get it done.”

Columbia shot 7-15 from three, had 14 assists to eight turnovers and held Dartmouth to 1-11 from distance, but still had to come up with some big shots down the stretch because of some little things. Things like missing the front end of a 1-and-1 and shooting 12-18 from the line overall as a team.

Those are the types of things that make Columbia’s final record of 15-15 and 4-10 in the Ivy League so deceiving. The Lions were in all but two games this season in league play, they just had trouble closing games out. Going all the way back to the first weekend of league play against Penn and Princeton up until Friday night’s overtime loss to Harvard, Columbia found lots of ways to lose nail biters.

That’s also why this group, which loses four seniors from the rotation but no key parts, has so much to look forward to. A year of development for Lyles, Cisco and Barbour and the freshman can only pay dividends moving forward. Noruwa Agho, who wasn’t honored at Senior Night as Columbia hopes his waiver request for another season will be approved, could also rejoin the Lions along with Steve Frankoski. Put it all together and there should be talent and depth throughout the roster.

Hopefully another year of experience will help with all the close games.

“I don’t know how to coach that out of us, but we’re going to get that out,” said Smith about Columbia’s tendency to let opponents get back into games. “I don’t know what it is, just have to be a little tougher probably, a little grittier.”

But on Saturday night it was all about the current group of seniors. Smith started the four seniors that were honored at Levien and they held down the fort along with Barbour for the first four minutes of the game. The set up led to Columbia getting 44 points of the bench.

“I was excited to start the seniors because it could also shorten the game,” Smith said. “I could get them four, five minutes instead of trying to fit them in. I thought it would give some of the other guys a little blow.”

Fan favorite Steve Egee played 17 minutes, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds.

“It’s great to go out on a win like that,” Egee said. “We’ve had some tough losses in league. To get a win to end the season and especially the four seniors’ careers, it’s really something special. I thought everybody played tough tonight.”

Lyles finished with 23 points and Mark Cisco had 15 points and nine boards. Barbour finished his junior campaign with nine points, five assists and one turnover in 36 minutes.

“I’m glad we go it done for [the seniors] to send them out on a good note. They work harder than anybody,” Lyles said.

Jvonte Brooks led Dartmouth with 17 points, including 9-10 shooting from the free throw line. His physical play down low forced both Cisco and Corey Osetkowski into foul trouble. Osetkowski committed four fouls in 13 minutes. Cisco fouled out after 30 minutes.

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