Everybody loves Rayman, except AU men’s basketball

Despite hot start from Gasperini, AU falters against Rayman and Colgate

Everybody loves Rayman, except AU men’s basketball
Ben Lubarsky (#30) Connor Nelson (#5), and Yilret Yiljep (#12) in a game against Colgate on Jan. 25.

Ten minutes into the first half, the Eagles were leading the defending Patriot League Champion Colgate Raiders 22-14. Despite the electric start, AU (9-10, 5-3 PL) couldn’t sustain the momentum, and fell to the Will Rayman-led Colgate Raiders (16-5, 7-1 PL) 79-69 on Saturday afternoon inside Bender Arena.

After the hot start, which was anchored by 10 points from senior center Mark Gasperini, AU couldn’t find its rhythm offensively, as the team scored nine points in the final 11 minutes of the first half.

“We got some decent looks that didn’t go,” said AU head coach Mike Brennan. “But they do a good job…[Colgate] puts their hands up, they’re active.”

Thanks to a quality defensive performance, AU walked into the locker room at halftime down just three points. The rock-solid defense AU played in the first half did not translate to the second half, however.

Out of the locker room, AU quickly found itself down to Colgate by a healthy 17-point margin.

Much of AU’s struggles during this period and throughout the entire second half were due to the play of Colgate senior forward Will Rayman, who scored 17 points on 8-9 shooting. Rayman also grabbed 16 rebounds, which helped kill any momentum AU gained during the game.

“[Rayman] is a monster… a handful,” Brennan said. “He just puts so much pressure on you, mainly the offensive rebounding.”

Despite the dominance of Rayman in the paint, AU was able to muster some offensive momentum, as senior point guard Sa’eed Nelson scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, and also tallied 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals.

In large part due to Nelson, AU was able to cut Colgate’s lead to 5 with just 1:15 remaining, but it was too little too late.

“If you execute offensively and defensively to 80 percent against a team like that, you lose,” Brennan said. 

AU will be back at Bender Arena on Monday night at 7 p.m. against Jordan Cohen and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

“We’ve gotta forget about this one and start thinking about Lehigh,” Brennan said. “[Jordan] Cohen is one of the best guards in the league, a senior veteran.”

jkolodny@theeagleonline.com

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