NEW YORK - Luke Petrasek had 18 points and Maodo Lo dropped in 16 as the Columbia men’s basketball team rolled to an 86-54 victory over Norfolk State in the opening game of the CIT Tournament at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia dropped in a season-high and postseason record of 16 three-pointers along the way, earning their largest victory since a 107-62 triumph over Kean in the season-opener. The win is the largest margin of victory for the Lions in postseason history.
Grant Mullins capped a 10-2 Columbia run in the first half when Lucas Meisner found him for a triple, giving the Lions a 17-10 lead at the 9:32 mark. After the Spartans’ Zaynah Robinson answered with a three of his own, Nate Hickman connected from deep for one of his three first-half threes, to put the lead back to seven.
NSU, who didn't have a player reach double figure scoring, was led by D'Shon Taylor with nine points. Three other Spartans scored eight points for a team that missed 40 shots in the game and shot a frigid 2 for 18 from behind the three-point line.
The Lions ended the half with their biggest lead of the game, thanks to a three-pointer from Petrasek in the closing seconds. Columbia went into the locker room up 42-21, led by 11 points in the frame from Lo and nine from Hickman.
Columbia stayed hot from deep in the opening moments of the second, as Petrasek hit his first three triples in the stanza and Mullins hit a pair in the first seven minutes, forcing a Norfolk State timeout at the 12:54 mark with the Lions up 61-33.
With 12 minutes on the game clock and the shot clock down to five seconds in the second, Lo had his mind on a record. The senior made two nice cross-over moves at the top of the key and nailed his single-season school record 88th three-pointer, extending the Columbia lead to 64-36.
Six different Lions went on to hit a three in the win, as Mullins and Hickman joined Petrasek and Lo in double-figures with 11 points each. Isaac Cohen led the way on the glass with seven rebounds as well as a team-high six assists.
Columbia will receive a bye into the quarterfinals of the CIT and will host an opponent to be determined on Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in Levien Gymnasium. With the tournament field at 26 teams, the top-three seeds based on KenPom regular season RPI automatically advance to the round of eight. The Lions came into the event as the No. 3 team, checking in at 113 behind UC Irvine and UT Arlington.