Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Columbia Lions: 2016 College Insider Tournament Champions



NEW YORK -- Columbia coach Kyle Smith showed his team a photo of the empty trophy case in front of his office before the game.

He told them it was about time they put something in there.

The Lions responded.

Grant Mullins scored 20 points and Columbia rallied to beat UC Irvine 73-67 on Tuesday night to win the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament.

The Lions became the first New York City school to win a postseason title since St. John's won the NIT in 2003. The Red Storm later vacated that championship.

"It's great," said senior Maodo Lo, who was the tournament MVP. "We were talking about that earlier. Only a handful of teams that play at this time of year. ... It's a good moment right now."

Columbia also became only the second Ivy League school to win a postseason crown.

Trailing 53-48 with 7:20 left, Columbia (25-10) scored 17 of the next 21 points. Mullins hit a 3-pointer and then on the next possession made an incredible shot, flipping the ball over his head as he was fouled on the drive. That three-point play gave Columbia a 54-53 advantage. Lo's 3-pointer made it 63-57.

The Anteaters (28-10), who had won 18 of their past 22, could only get within four the rest of the way.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions celebrated the school's first postseason title. Confetti came down on them and the team cut down the nets in their home gym.

"It's really special, only four or five teams that get to cut down nets every year and we were one of those," senior Alex Rosenberg said. "It's something I'll always remember. It's been a tough road, we came from a 12-16 team to 25-10. If that's not changing the culture, I don't know what is."

Jeff Coby finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions, who had the most wins in school history, including 15 non-conference victories.

Lo added 13 points and finished third on the school's all-time scoring list, 12 short of breaking the school record.

Trailing 20-14 with 8:52 left in the first half, Columbia used a 17-6 run to close the half and take a 31-26 lead at the break. Lo hit a 3-pointer to get the run started and Luke Petrasek's 3-pointer made it 29-22.

Mamadou Ndiaye, the Anteaters 7-foot-6 center, then had consecutive dunks where he barely had to leave the ground to make it a five-point game at the half.

Mike Best scored 17 points to lead the Anteaters. Ndiaye finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

TIP-INS:

UC Irvine: The Anteaters set a school record with 15 non-conference wins and 13 road victories. ... Alex Young became the first player in school history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in his career.

Columbia: The CIT could stand for the Columbia Invitational Tournament as the Lions hosted all four of their games in the tournament. ... Buck Jenkins is the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,767 points. Jim McMillian is second with (1,758). Lo has 1756. ... The only other Ivy League team to win a postseason tournament was Princeton, which won the 1975 NIT. ... Smith has won 101 games in five seasons at Columbia. It's the most wins in a five-year span for Columbia since the team won 106 games from 1950-55.

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