There were no shortage of storylines coming into Tuesday's championship game but the biggest one was a media report from Monday saying Kyle Smith would be coaching his last game for the Lions before heading to take the head coaching job at San Francisco. Those reports have still yet to be confirmed and didn't seem to linger over Columbia during the game.
Columbia shot out to a 31-26 halftime lead but UC Irvine quickly set the tone in the second half going up 53-46 with just under nine minutes to play. The Anteaters started to look like weary road travelers though after spending the whole CIT away from home in North Dakota, Louisiana, South Carolina, and now New York. UC Irvine didn't score for over three minutes and eventually head coach Russell Turner and senior Dominique Dunning would lose their composure. Dunning would receive a technical foul that locked in a 73-67 victory.
Grant Mullens lead the way for the Lions with 20 points. Jeff Coby and Luke Petrasek stepped to combine for 30 points as senior Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg had relatively quiet nights. Lo posted 13 points on just a 4-for-13 from the field. Rosenberg was 1-for-8 while posting just three points.
Mike Best lead the Anteaters with 17 points, while big man Mamadou Ndiaye added 14 points and 8 boards.
If this was Kyle Smith's last game in Manhattan then it was a heck of a way to go out. It's also an incredible send-off for Lo and Rosenberg, two guys who have fallen short of Ivy League goals the past few years but have certainly raised the bar at Columbia.