One year after losing to NYU at the buzzer, the Columbia Law School basketball squad entered Levien Gymnasium determined to return the Deans’ Cup to Morningside Heights. After a sluggish start, Columbia pulled away in the second half and routed its rival 74-56, in the thirteenth annual Deans’ Cup.
Columbia struggled offensively in the opening minutes and was unable to contain NYU’s Ryan James who had his way in the paint. Columbia eventually turned it around with a strong defensive effort led by co-captains Nick Scott (JD ’14) and Regwood Snipes (JD ’14). With 13:50 remaining in the first half, Scott had back-to-back steals creating fast break opportunities and helping the Lions pull within 5. Matthew Cable (JD ’14) played some very effective minutes off the bench. Cable’s inside presence denied NYU access to the paint and forced them to rely on their outside shooting.
Though erratic at times, Justin Nowell (JD ‘16) provided a nice offensive spark off the bench, tying the game at 13 at the midpoint of the first half with a strong drive to the rim off of an isolation play. The following possession, Caitlin Hyduke (JD ’14) drew a foul on a drive and made a free throw to give Columbia its first lead of the night.
While the female players on both squads—in particular Columbia’s Hyduke, Soop-Tzi Tang (VIS ’14) and NYU’s Liz Polido—were involved in critical possessions throughout the game, the males largely avoided defending the lone female on the opposing team. However, as the teams continued to exchange leads, the atmosphere grew so intense that both squads momentarily forgot about gender. During one play, Hyduke went after a loose ball and Chris Okonkwo tried to wrap her up to get a jump ball, but ended up knocking her to the floor, and Hyduke drew a foul. A few plays later Snipes blocked Polido’s shot attempt and was called for a foul. Both plays drew loud boos from the crowd. For her part, Hyduke thought the “play was definitely unnecessarily rough” but she also noted “I’m used to playing with guys and generally appreciate not being treated like I am fragile because I am a girl.”
Columbia started the second half up 31-28 and never looked back. Every time NYU tried to cut into Columbia’s lead, Wyatt Littles (JD ’15) had an answer. Littles had a stellar night offensively and was able to convert many timely baskets for the lions.
Eliazar Chacha (JD ‘16) also ignited his team and the crowd off the bench with a spectacular performance from behind the arc. Chacha hit his fourth three-pointer with 12 minutes to go and the crowd erupted as the Lions extended their lead to 7. And the shots just kept falling. Littles hit two huge threes with 5 minutes to go giving Columbia its biggest lead 63-42. Coach Jeffrey Skinner (JD ’15) emptied the bench and allowed the reserves to play out the final three minutes.
“Great team win, lots of players stepped up big when we needed it. Feels great to bring the trophy back to CLS—where it most likely would have already been if not for last year’s scoring manipulations,” Scott said of the victory.
Not only did Columbia claim the Deans’ Cup title, but the Law School’s faculty team won the halftime game against NYU’s squad. The Columbia professors had a little something of their own to prove as they squared off against former Columbia professor, Trevor Morrison. Last year, NYU lured away Morrison to become the school’s new dean, continuing its string of hires from Columbia. NYU made headlines back in 2006 when it got 3 Columbia Law School professors to decamp to NYU and again in 2010 when it poached another Columbia faculty member. The Columbia roster included Professors Jamal Greene, Kevin Haeberle, Bernard Harcourt, Robert Jackson, Gillian Metzger, James Nelson, David Pozen and Matthew Waxman. The final score was 8-6.
Behind this competitive game is an extraordinarily cooperative and successful endeavor.
One of the largest student-run law school events in the country, the Deans’ Cup raises funds through ticket sales and sponsorships to benefit public interest law organizations at both NYU Law and Columbia Law. This year’s total came to more than $24,000.