Just one year ago with about three seconds on the clock Columbia had a two point lead over Penn vanish on a half-court buzzer beater by senior Kevin Egee. This year, it was time for Columbia's revenge.
In front of a packed and raucous home crowd at Levien Gymnasium on the campus of snow drenched Columbia campus, the Junior transfer from La Salle came up big time. Brian Grimes had tied the game at 54 with about 53 seconds to go. A Columbia foul gave Penn a one point to the Quakers after Jack Eggleston went 1-2 from the line. Columbia Freshman John Daniels missed two free throws with 16 seconds to go. Either one of them would have tied the game. However, Penn was fouled on the ensuing possession and this time Jack Eggleston missed the front end of the one and one.
The Lions drove the ball up the court and their "plan" seemed hopeless. The nearly lost possession, however, Grimes regained the ball with plenty of time, and took a horrible looking shot from just inside the three point arc, a shot way out of range of the forward. However, it was nothing but net, sending an electricity through the stands. Penn could not convert with 2.7 seconds left, and Columbia took home the 56-55 victory. Many of the Penn fans, who came despite the snow, left with a different feeling than a year before.
Sophomore star Noruwa Agho had 23 for the Lions, who have struggled in Ivy play. Dan Monckton led the way for the Quakers with 17.
Columbia returns home tomorrow for senior night against Princeton. Niko Scott, Kevin Bulger, and Patrick Foley will be recognized before the game. Foley was in uniform tonight, but didn't play.
Just up the road, a few more stops on the one train lies Draddy Gymnasium in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Manhattan Jaspers were celebrating senior night against a very good Niagara team. However, unlike at Columbia, the Jaspers were not able to scrape out a win.
The Jaspers were down late in the game, but would come back in the final four minutes to pull with in three.
In a situation almost too perfect, senior Antoine Pearson would go to the line for free throws with just a second to go with his team down by three points. He made the first. He would have to intentionally miss the second so that the Jaspers could rebound and have a putback layup. This almost worked. Alabama transfer Rico Pickett of Manhattan got the ball on the rebound but couldn't tie the game, and the Purple Eagles took home the victory.
The loss for Manhattan means that they will be a nine seed in the conference tournament and will play Loyola (MD) in the opening round game of the MAAC tournament in Albany, New York.
Before playing Loyola in the first round of the tournament however, they will have a tune-up with the same team this Sunday in Maryland, at 1 p.m