Did pinkeye cost Colgate a shot at upset of NCAA tournament vs. Tennessee?

No. 15 seed Colgate made a strong bid for the upset of the NCAA tournament Friday, taking a 52-50 lead over second-seeded Tennessee midway through the second half.

A bout of pink eye may have cost them their best shot at closing out the win.

The Vols pulled away late for a 77-70 win to advance to the second round and did so while the Raiders’ best player was off the court. Rapolas Ivanauskas sat the entire second half struggling with his eyes.

Head coach Matt Langel told reporters after the game that he was dealing with pink eye.

“He woke up this morning, and it just wasn’t happening,” Langel said. “Your heart breaks for him.”

Langel said that it was a recurring issues that Ivanauskas struggled with a couple of weeks ago.

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March Madness 2019: Photos from the first round
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March Madness 2019: Photos from the first round
Maryland 's Bruno Fernando (23) celebrates during the final moments of the second half of a first round men's college basketball game against Belmont in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman (23) grabs a rebound over Bradley guard Ja'Shon Henry (22) during a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Louisville forward Jordan Nwora is fouled by Minnesota guard Amir Coffey, right, during a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Auburn's forward Horace Spencer (0) and New Mexico State guard JoJo Zamora (4) battle for a rebound in the first half during a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Yale 's Paul Atkinson (20) and LSU's Kavell Bigby-Williams battle for a rebound during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Belmont 's Dylan Windler, center, goes to the basket between Maryland 's Bruno Fernando, left, and Darryl Morsell (11) during the second half of the first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: Trevelin Queen #20 of the New Mexico State Aggies reacts after being defeated by the Auburn Tigers 78-77 in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: Terrell Brown #3 of the New Mexico State Aggies attempts to shoot the ball against Anfernee McLemore #24 of the Auburn Tigers during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 21: Elijah Childs #10 of the Bradley Braves celebrates after a three point basket against the Michigan State Spartans during their game in the First Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 21, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: Clayton Henry #5 of the New Mexico State Aggies dives for the ball during the first half against the Auburn Tigers in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 21: Tevin Brown #10 of the Murray State Racers celebrates after hitting a three pointer during the second half of the first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Purdue's Matt Haarms celebrates a basket as Old Dominion's Justice Kithcart (2) follows during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. Purdue won 61-48. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Villanova's Jermaine Samuels (23) dunks against St. Mary's Malik Fitts (24) during the second half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: Johnny MCCants #35 of the New Mexico State Aggies dunks the ball against Chuma Okeke #5 of the Auburn Tigers during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 21: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans glares at Aaron Henry #11 after a play during their game in the First Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament against the Bradley Braves at Wells Fargo Arena on March 21, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MARCH 21: Adam Kunkel #5 of the Belmont Bruins reacts on the bench in the second half of play against the Maryland Terrapins during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at VyStar Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters watches during the second half of the team's game against Liberty in the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Liberty's Zach Farquhar, left, and Keegan McDowell celebrate during the second half of a first round men's college basketball game against Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Houston's DeJon Jarreau dunks the ball during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Georgia State in the NCAA Tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Buffalo's Jeremy Harris chases after a loose ball during the second half of a first round men's college basketball game against Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Buffalo's Montell McRae (1) and Arizona State's Zylan Cheatham (45) chase a loose ball during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Wisconsin guard D'Mitrik Trice, bottom, holds onto the ball under Oregon guard Ehab Amin during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Gardner Webb forward Eric Jamison Jr. (2) has the stripped by Virginia guard Kihei Clark, right, during a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. Virginia defeated Gardner-Webb 71-56. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
Buffalo's Dontay Caruthers celebrates a teammates basket during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - MARCH 22: RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball as teammate Zion Williamson #1 celebrates against the North Dakota State Bison in the second half during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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A 6-10 forward, Ivanauskas led the team this season with 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4 percent from 3-point distance. He was the Patriot League Player of the Year.

Against Tennessee, he shot 0-for-4 from the field and did not score while playing 16 minutes.

Ivanauskas started the second half of the game on the bench holding a towel over his eyes. CBS’s Allie LaForce reported during the game that Ivanauskas had trouble getting his contacts to set in his eyes prior to the game and that he had to start the game wearing a backup pair.

Ivanauskas ended up meeting with his father at halftime, according to the report, a meeting LaForce described as unusual.

He continued to rub his eyes on the bench in the opening minutes of the half before heading toward the locker room with around 18 minutes remaining. He did not return to the game.

Colgate started the half down 42-30 and actually started its comeback bid without Ivanauskas, largely behind hot shooting from Jordan Burns who hit 8-of-13 3-pointers and scored a game-high 32 points.

But Tennessee closed the deal, outscoring Colgate, 27-18 in the game’s final 10:42 to hold off the upset bid and advance to the second round, led by Admiral Schofield’s 19 points.

There’s obviously no knowing if the Raiders could have held on for the upset with Ivanauskas in the lineup, or if they would have even mounted a rally to begin with.

But there’s no denying that Ivanauskas leaving the game with pink eye is a bitterly disappointing way to go out.

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