Five Thoughts: Columbia 82, Hofstra 77

Columbia (6-3) defeated Hofstra (7-3) 82-77 in its signature win of non-conference season. Here are five thoughts following Saturday’s contest at Levien Gym.

Big, big, big win – When Alex Rosenberg and Grant Mullins went down for what appear to be the entire season, the belief was that the Lions missed a chance to compete for an Ivy League title. But after an jaw-dropping performance against top-ranked Kentucky, the Lions got their best win of the season, defeating a 7-2 Hofstra team that had only lost narrow games to South Florida and North Carolina State. Last season, the Lions defeated Stony Brook, the class of the America East on its home court, and Hofstra was a similarly-sized challenge. Another big test is coming up for the Lions, as they play Connecticut on Monday.

Won a game playing fast – Columbia is a team that’s won games by limiting the opposition to 60 or fewer points. On Saturday, it was impressive for the Lions to defeat Hofstra at its own run-and-gun style of play. Hofstra is in the top 20 in the nation in points per game, and likes to get up and down the court. But the Lions have proven that they’re versatile in tempo and can be efficient at basically any pace.

“The good thing is we got them to play our pace,” Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich said. “The bad thing is they did well doing it.”

Luke Petrasek starting to get his footing – Petrasek missed the first seven games of the season with an injury. He played sparing and unproductive minutes at Kentucky. It was a similar case against Hofstra on Saturday, but he started to get in the groove after a series of missed shots to start. Petrasek finished with eight points, three rebounds and two blocks. A season removed from being a prolific freshman starter, Petrasek is still working his way into the flow offensively and defensively. He had a block on the defensive end, then came down and scored a layup on the offensive side of the ball. His three from the corner with 4:30 left put the Lions up 73-63.

It’s Maodo Lo, and then everyone else – The question going into the season was whether or not Lo could carry Columbia offensively with the loss of Rosenberg and Mullins. He has risen to the task, and was a one-man wrecking ball on Saturday. Lo finished with 29 points and made four-straight threes in the second half to give the Lions separation over the in-state rivals. After the game Mihalich said he had no answers for Lo, who finished 7-of-15 from three and 10-of-21 overall. Kyle Smith said that Lo wasn’t originally comfortable with his role as a top scorer, mostly because of his calm demeanor. But it’s something that he’s developed into as the season has progressed.

Nate Hickman got his shot, but looked pretty bad – Freshman Nate Hickman has been one of the few newbies that Kyle Smith has given minutes to. On Saturday, he looked his age. He had several turnovers, including one where he caught the ball while out of bounds. He also finished the first half with an ugly shot, and didn’t get back in the game after that. On the season, Hickman has played in six games, but has registered just two points.

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