LIVINGSTON, NJ — The second half had just begun with the Livingston boys basketball team trailing the Columbia Cougars, 50-31. Livingston needed a second-half surge to stay within striking distance of the Cougars.

The Lancers had the first possession but clanked a three off the rim, and sensing an opportunity, the Cougars ran the court to swish in a three. Two seconds later, Columbia followed with another three off a steal.

The Lancers responded by dribbling the ball up the court only to turn it over once again. The Cougars sprinted, finding another open shooter in the corner. Just like that, Columbia led, 59-31, blowing the game open.

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Livingston (5-8) ultimately fell to Columbia (9-7), 102-62, in a game where the Cougars rarely missed from three-point range.

Lancers Coach Kyle Just tried to run a new defense to stop Columbia standout Stephan Gabriel—the 1-1-3. But the defense collapsed the paint and attempted to force a bad pass. Nothing would work against Columbia on Tuesday night.

“I think it was a perfect storm,” said Just. “We kind of sold out with the 1-1-3 to pack the paint. We knew about Stephan Gabriel and knew No. 1 could shoot, but the strategy just didn’t work.”

Livingston came off a tough stretch of games. This was the fourth game in six days, all against tough competition.

The Lancers came out strong in the first quarter, with Eric Silverstein starting the game with eight quick points, including two long threes and a contested layup. However, the Cougars caught fire from three and never looked back.

Livingston limited Gabriel as best as they could. The Cougars’ standout player certainly had his moments, but was not the usual force he was.

The Lancers will take on Orange on Thursday in an away game. As the Lancers let up 103 points the last time the two teams met, the boys have something to prove both offensively and defensively.

“When we played Orange the first game they were super quick and they had one guard that constantly broke us down,” said Just. “We will have to switch our defense and force them to shoot contested shots. We have to stop the ball every single fast break, we will definitely work on that and closing out on shooters tomorrow.”