BY JAKE OSWALT
In today’s era of college basketball, a team needs to shoot well behind the three-point line or defend the three-point shot.
Colgate University came into Wednesday’s game at St. Francis shooting 41.9 percent from three-point territory. The Raiders made 70 percent (14 for 20) of their three-pointers at DeGol Arena on their way to an 85-76 victory in the home opener for the Red Flash.
“We knew they were going to be really good offensively,” St. Francis first-year coach Rob Krimmel said. “They had some guys that could really shoot the basketball. They executed their offense well. That’s what they do, and we weren’t able to take them out of their strengths tonight.”
Colgate junior guard Pat Moore led the way by scoring 25 points and shooting 9 of 13 from the field and 7 of 8 from behind the arc.
St. Francis (0-4) led at the halftime by one, but Colgate came out on fire in the second half. Moore hit a trio of three’s early in the second half to give his Raiders a 10-point lead.
“I thought their shooters got shots where they were in rhythm and they were comfortable,” Krimmel said. “Anytime your best shooters get open looks, it becomes contagious.”
St. Francis kept chipping away at Colgate’s lead in the second half. Junior guard Umar Shannon led the charge by scoring 15 of his team-high 24 points in the second half.
“I think we dug ourselves a hole by letting their shooters get open and do what they do best,” Shannon said. “No matter how much we cut into the lead, we always had a lapse on the opposite side of the ball.”
St. Francis freshman forward Stephon Whyatt tied the game at 68 on a layup with 5:46 remaining. The Red Flash mustered one more tie at 72 with 2:59 left, but could not get a needed stop on the defensive end.
Colgate (3-3) responded by making two consecutive three-pointers. The backbreaker came on a missed free throw as Colgate’s Brandon James got the rebound and put in the lay up for a 83-74 lead with 20 seconds left.
Colgate outrebounded St. Francis, 35-18, and scored 12-second chance points.
Moore was coming off of a 31-point game versus Coppin State. He has made 14 of his last 17 three-point attempts and now has 56 points in his last two games.
Coach Krimmel was pleased with his team’s effort to cut into Colgate’s lead, but his team let up 49 points in the second half to Colgate.
“Anytime a team scores 49 points in a half, you’re going to put yourself in a tough spot. We knew we couldn’t trade baskets with them,” he said. “Give them credit. They willed their style in the second half, enough to give them a comfortable lead. Our guys fought back but when you dig yourself that deep of a hole, every possession counts. Defensively, we didn’t do a good enough job tonight.”
Shannon added, “I think we have to stay mentally tough as a team. Every game that we went into, we were prepared. I think now it’s on us as players, it doesn’t have anything to do with the coaches. We have to execute.”
St. Francis will travel to Notre Dame on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game.