COLUMBIA STATION — Columbia again proved Friday night why opponents must not take a single possession off against the Raiders, on either end of the floor.
Relatively bottled up through the first half of a crucial Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division showdown with unbeaten Lutheran West, the Raiders blitzed the Longhorns in the third quarter and ran away for a 63-37 victory.
The Raiders made six of nine 3-point attempts in the third, in which they scored 22 straight points to close the quarter. Four different players hit threes, including two apiece from David Delahunty and Brian Hershey.
“We came out and hit some big-time shots — we’re a shooting team,” said Delahunty, who led all scorers with 20. “We have guys even coming off the bench that can score for us, which makes us that much more dangerous. Those shots early in the quarter were huge for us.”
Columbia coach Larry Babics, on the other hand, credited his team’s defensive effort with turning the tide.
The Raiders, of course, have the playmakers to score early and often, and offensive slumps usually don’t last too long. But the team’s defense had been lacking, Babics said, so the Raiders focused on that end of the floor recently in practice.
It paid off Friday, as the equally talented Longhorns were held in check even before the Raiders’ big run. And during that third quarter spurt, the Raiders limited Lutheran West to 1-for-12 shooting, with the bulk of those misses coming from the perimeter.
The Longhorns, as their 8-0 record entering the game would indicate, are deep and talented, with players who can and have made those shots. But as Columbia poured it on offensively, the Longhorns appeared rattled, rushing shots and looking for the figurative 10-point shot.
“I’ve been disappointed in the defense all year,” Babics said. “We never seem to be able to settle down and play defense. And it’s paying off. We’ve always known we can score; we feel like we always can score. That run in the third was really all set up by the defense.”
The Longhorns were without leading scorer Andrew O’Hara for a long spell, as he picked up his second, third and fourth fouls in a peculiar stretch toward the end of the second quarter and sat the entire third. O’Hara picked up his second on a Brandon Severo drive, and before Longhorns coach Alan Januzzi could get him off the floor, was whistled for an illegal screen at the other end. As he came off the floor, he drew a technical and his fourth foul.
Yet even O’Hara may not have stopped the Raiders’ run. Tied at 24 at the half with neither team having played terribly well — Columbia shot 33 percent and Lutheran West 38 — the Longhorns took a lead on a Max Quinn interior basket to start the third quarter.
But despite foul trouble for Kevin Simon and Severo, the Raiders rattled off the final 22 of the quarter — threes by Michael Boey, Severo, Hershey and Delahunty, followed by a Hershey putback, another Delahunty three, a bucket by big man Brandon Heidecker and another Hershey three to cap it.
“At halftime, with how we had played and being tied, I was pleased,” Januzzi said. “In the third quarter, we weren’t converting and they played really well. It happens sometimes, where it snowballs when they’re playing well and we’re not.
“The problem is playing Columbia, you stop one or two guys, they have more that can step up. They all played well tonight.”
Jay Banyasz joined Delahunty in double figures for the Raiders with 12, while O’Hara and Greg Kunse scored seven apiece for Lutheran West.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia 63, Lutheran West 37
LUTHERAN WEST (37): Greg Kunse 2-2-7, Andrew O’Hara 3-0-7, Jack Kelsheimer 2-0-6, Aaron Beckman 1-0-2, Max Quinn 3-0-6, Clay Carper 1-0-3, Adam Felten 2-0-4, Nate Roman 1-0-2. Totals 15-2-37.
COLUMBIA (63): Brandon Severo 2-3-9, Brian Hershey 3-0-8, Jay Banyasz 5-0-12, Michael Boey 1-0-3, David Delahunty 6-6-20, Kevin Simon 3-1-7, Brandon Heidecker 2-0-4. Totals 22-10-63.
Lutheran West 12 12 2 11 — 37
Columbia 11 13 22 17 — 63
Three-point goals: Lutheran West 5-25 (Kunse, O’Hara, Kelsheimer 2, Carper), Columbia 9-15 (Severo 2, Hershey 2, Banyasz 2, Boey 1, Delahunty 2). Field goals: Lutheran West 15-55 (27 percent), Columbia 22-46 (48 percent). Free throws: Lutheran West 2-5 (40 percent), Columbia 10-20 (50 percent). Rebounds: Lutheran West 26 (O’Hara, Quinn 4), Columbia 44 (Boey 10). Total fouls: Lutheran West 22, Columbia 13. Turnovers: Lutheran West 9, Columbia 14. Fouled out: None.