Sunday, December 19, 2010

Game Recap: Big Red Fall Short Again, Lose at Binghamton

Box Score

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Cornell placed four players in double figures and controlled the backboards, but couldn't get out of an offensive funk in the second half as Binghamton rallied for a 69-68 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Events Center. The Bearcats improved to 3-6, while the Big Red slipped to 2-7.

Senior Mark Coury had 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, Drew Ferry scored a game-high 15 points and six rebounds and Errick Peck scored 12 with five rebounds. Chris Wroblewski had a solid all-around game with 10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. The Big Red collected 19 offensive rebounds and held a decisive 42-27 edge on the boards. Cornell held a 34-14 edge in the paint and a 20-2 second-chance points advantage. Johnathan Gray chipped in six points and six rebounds in the loss.

Mahamoud Jabbi scored 13 points, including the game-winning 15-footer with 14 seconds left, and Moussa Camara posted 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. Four other players had eight or nine points. Team leading scorer Greer Wright was held to nine points, all on free throws, but added seven assists, five steals and five rebounds.

The lead traded hands five times in the final eight minutes, and it was the Big Red who had the last chance to snap its skid, but Wroblewski missed a 14-foot jumper, and Wire, Coury and Ferry each had tiup attempts that rimmed off as the clock expired.

The game was a tale of two halves, with Cornell dominating the first 20 minutes and Binghamton doing just enough after the break to get back into the game before slowly pulling away for the win.

Cornell shot 50 percent from the floor and dominated the backboards (22-11) in running out to a 43-30 halftime edge. The Big Red chased down 11 offensive rebounds and defensively limited the home team to nine field goals before the break. Coury was a beast in the paint, nearly securing a double-double in his 13 minutes of action with eight points and 10 rebounds, including six on the offensie end. He also had a pair of assists and a steal without committing a turnover.

Cornell jumped out to a 13-2 lead, led by as many as 16 and was never threatened in the first 20 minutes. Cornell worked the Bearcats over for open look after open look on offense and chased down seemingly every loose ball. At the break, Cornell dominated the numbers in points in the paint (22-6), off turnovers (16-7), second-chance (13-0) and fastbreak points (4-0). Coury was matched by both Peck (8 points, 4 rebounds) and Drew Ferry (eight points) in the socring column, while Wroblewski notched six points, five assists and two steals.

The second half saw an out-of-sync Cornell team on both ends, with Binghamton getting back into the game with its bench production (38 points) and clutch shots, including two 3-pointers by freshman Robert Mansell, a pair of Wright free throws and Jabbi's game-winner. Binghamton made 48 percent of its field goals (12-of-25) and made five treys while limiting Cornell to 29 percent shooting after the break.

The Big Red returns to action on Monday, Dec. 20 when it plays host to Bucknell at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall at 7 p.m.

By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal

BINGHAMTON -- Nine games into the 2010-11 men's basketball season, Cornell may be nearing a tipping point. That's how much Saturday's stunning 69-68 loss at Binghamton, Cornell's sixth straight and fifth by five points or less, shook the Big Red's leadership.

For the seniors, the feeling associated with a 2-7 record that now includes multiple perceived bad losses is equal parts unfamiliar and unacceptable.

"Obviously, this is a real serious time right now," senior Mark Coury said. "We need to turn this around."

Inconsistent play was understandably dismissed in losses to the likes of Seton Hall, Syracuse and Minnesota, with a young corps of players seeing significant minutes together for the first time, but the one-point loss at Events Center was a cold and pure reality check.

For the seniors, the feeling associated with a 2-7 record that now includes multiple perceived bad losses is equal parts unfamiliar and unacceptable.

"Obviously, this is a real serious time right now," senior Mark Coury said. "We need to turn this around."

Inconsistent play was understandably dismissed in losses to the likes of Seton Hall, Syracuse and Minnesota, with a young corps of players seeing significant minutes together for the first time, but the one-point loss at Events Center was a cold and pure reality check.

Cornell jumped out to a 13-2 lead, led by as many as 16 points and took a 43-30 cushion into halftime. It was thoroughly one-sided. Cornell controlled the glass, scored 22 points in the paint, shot 50 percent from the floor, and turned 11 Binghamton turnovers into 16 points.

In the second half, the bottom fell out. Shots didn't fall -- Cornell missed 20 of 28 attempts -- energy swooned, defense regressed and a bench that was productive early failed to provide a spark with two key players -- Adam Wire and Errick Peck -- in foul trouble.

"This is a game where you can say it's a tale of two halves," junior Chris Wroblewski said. "Whereas the first half we were pushing it, we were dictating tempo, and in the second half I think they got it to the tempo they wanted to and kind of slowed it down. We stopped pushing, we stopped being aggressive and turning the ball over."

Binghamton's Mahamoud Jabbi, a transfer from Division III SUNY Oswego, hit the go-ahead jumper with 14 seconds remaining, the last of seven lead changes over the final seven-plus minutes.

"As time went on, we were chipping away at it instead of trying to hit home runs every time," Jabbi said. "Some teams might try and come up and hit 20 home runs instead of trying to hit singles, hit singles, and keep scoring runs. And that's what we did. We knew we were down big, and we knew we weren't going to get it back in one shot."

Cornell (2-7) had four opportunities to win in a frenetic final possession, but Wroblewski's pull-up jumper from 15 feet missed, and subsequent put-back attempts from Wire, Coury and Drew Ferry rolled off the rim to the delight of the majority of 3,209 in attendance.

Cornell had 48 hours to get over this loss. It won't be easy, but it's not an impossibility.

Bucknell visits Newman Arena at 7 p.m. tonight, and arrives on a roll. The Bison (5-6) have won three straight, including an 89-77 win Friday over a good La Salle team. Coach Dave Paulsen returns the bulk of a roster that took Cornell into overtime last season in Lewisburg before the Big Red won, 104-98.

"If we can recover and see what we did wrong and correct those mistakes, then it's a great game," Coury said. "We're going to have to do that."

Coach Bill Courtney credited Binghamton for playing better in the second half, for hitting tough shots and taking advantage of the swing in momentum. But there was a distinct sense that Cornell felt it beat itself.

"We stopped doing everything," Courtney said. "We stopped shooting with confidence; we stopped trying to attack the rim. Our big guys stopped trying to go at their big guys. We were very passive offensively in the second half and that led to us not making shots early in the half. As the half wore on, and the game got closer, we got tight thinking we should probably (already) have won the game and we haven't."

Lost in the bitter outcome was that Cornell progressed in addressing weaknesses from its November schedule. The Big Red outrebounded an opponent for the first time, 42-27, and finished with 19 offensive rebounds. It did a better job finding offense inside the three-point arc and, for a half, achieved a balanced score sheet.

Coury had 12 points and a career-high 12 boards. Ferry scored 15 points, Peck scored 12 in his third straight strong showing and Wroblewski added 10 despite a tough shooting night (2-for-9). Jabbi's 13 points led Binghamton.

Courtney said in the preseason he expected this team to endure "trials and tribulations" while recuperating from the departure of last year's senior class. Those might have hit a peak on Saturday -- if Cornell can respond.

"We have to look at ourselves, look at film for our next game Monday and then look at what happened," Coury said. "Obviously, it was a team (loss). It wasn't just one person. It was everyone."

By Lynn Worth
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

VESTAL -- The Bearcats took their coach quite literally.

Binghamton University interim men's basketball coach Mark Macon scrawled a message at the top of the white board in the visiting team's locker room at Manhattan College eight days ago after a victory: "Make winning a habit."

Apparently, the Bearcats didn't just want to make winning a habit. They decided to make each victory a nail-biter.

Senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi made a baseline jumper with 14 seconds left as BU overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to defeat Cornell University, 69-68, in a non-conference game Saturday at the Events Center.

Jabbi scored a team-high 13 points. Moussa Camara scored 12 points, and Greer Wright, Rob Mansell and Jimmy Gray had nine points apiece.

The victory gives the Bearcats (3-6) their first win streak of the season, now having won back-to-back games after losing six straight. Saturday's victory followed the Bearcats' 70-69 victory over Manhattan on Dec. 11.

"Once he (Wright) drove, I pretty much knew to be in the corner to create spacing," Jabbi said of the game-winning play. "But all of a sudden I just realized he passed me the ball. It was kind of like Ron Artest (and) how Kobe passed him the ball. I'm like, 'Why do I have the ball?'"

Jabbi had time to glance at the clock and also recognized his defender had given him enough space to get the shot off. His foot was just over the 3-point line, but he made the two-point shot for the game's final points.

Cornell (2-7) didn't call a timeout, opting instead to inbound the ball and rush up court. Big Red guard Chris Wroblewski's jumper hit the rim but was off-target with about 6 seconds on the clock.

The Big Red got three offensive rebounds and three chances to tip the ball back in for the victory. But the first two layups missed and BU grabbed the final rebound at the buzzer.

"I was just like, 'Oh my God, I just hope they don't make it,'" Camara said of the final seconds. "I was just looking at the ball. I wasn't even trying to rebound the ball. I was mesmerized. I was just shocked."

The Bearcats looked shocked at the beginning of the game, trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half. Cornell carried a 43-30 lead into halftime.

The Big Red scored 22 of its 43 first-half points in the paint. Cornell made 18 of 36 field goal attempts, went 5-for-12 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half. Eight players scored for Cornell.

"In the first half I think we tried to play defense too cool," Jabbi said. "We were there, but there was no intensity. The person couldn't feel that we were there. Basically, they were able to go which way they wanted to go. It was pretty much like a phantom defense."

Cornell scored 13 second-chance points, grabbing rebounds and converting them into points after solid initial defense by BU. Big Red senior center Mark Coury scored six of his eight points in the half on put-backs. He pulled down 10 rebounds in the opening half despite playing just 13 minutes.

The Big Red dominated the boards in the first half, doubling BU's rebounding total (22 to 11).

BU's lack of effort in the first half didn't sit well with the players.

"I think in the locker room we have guys that -- just everybody has character and they pretty much hold themselves to a standard where that wasn't acceptable," Jabbi said of the halftime atmosphere. "We weren't losing the game because they were a better team. They just outhustled us."

The Bearcats closed that gap in the second half, as Cornell had 20 rebounds compared to the Bearcats' 16.

BU also did a better job limiting its opponent's scoring opportunities close to the basket, allowing 12 points in the paint. BU also recorded three of its four blocked shots after halftime.

Cornell went 8-for-28 in the second half and was outscored, 39-25.

"Man, it was a tale of two halves," Macon said. "That first half, we just weren't playing worth anything. They were beating us to every loose ball, every rebound. They were doing whatever they wanted to do."

The Bearcats scored the first five points of the second half to draw within 43-35 and continued to chip away.

They came within one point of tying three times before Jabbi made a jumper from the baseline to give the Bearcats their first lead, 54-53, with 7:50 left to play.

Cornell took a one-point lead on a layup by Errick Peck (12 points) with 3:01 remaining, and the lead changed hands five times in the final 1 1/2 minutes ending with Jabbi's jumper.

Cornell forward Drew Ferry led all scorers with 15 points, and leading scorer Chris Wroblewski scored 12 points.

BU returns to action on Tuesday night as St. Peter's College visits the Events Center.

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi drained an 18-foot jumper from the right corner with 14 seconds left to lift Binghamton (3-6) to a 69-68 comeback win over visiting Cornell (2-7) Saturday afternoon from the Events Center. After Jabbi's jumper, BU withstood three Big Red misses in the paint and a few more tips off the rim in a frantic closing six seconds.

The Bearcats trailed for most of the game and were down 64-60 with 2:30 remaining before Jabbi struck. First he drilled a three-pointer from the corner to pull BU to within one, 64-63, with 2:09 left. A driving layup from senior forward Moussa Camara gave the Bearcats a lead, 65-64, with 1:24 left. The teams then traded free throws - senior forward Greer Wright hitting a pair that gave BU a 67-66 lead with 45 seconds left. Cornell moved the ball on the interior for its final basket - a layup by Mark Coury with 30 seconds left that restored the Big Red's lead, 68-67. But Wright drove the lane on the other end and dished out to Jabbi, who hit the long jumper with a foot on the line for the winning margin.

Cornell had several great looks on its final possession but three jumpers in the lane were off the mark and several other rebound attempts hovered around the rim until the final horn sounded.

The Big Red crafted a 13-point halftime lead after shooting 50 percent in the opening frame. Cornell, which enjoyed a 42-27 margin on the glass, put up 18 more shots and had a 20-2 advantage in second-chance points.

But BU clamped down defensively in the second half, holding Cornell to eight field goals and just 29% shooting.

"The game was all about sheer toughness," head coach Mark Macon said. "It was a great comeback and testament to our guys digging in and taking care of our home court. It was a tale of two halves. Cornell was doing whatever they wanted in the first half and we weren't playing. Then in the second half we pushed up on them and forced them to do things weren't comfortable doing. We settled down and played tough, hard-nosed basketball and got our shots."

Jabbi scored a team-high 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Camara added 12 points and six rebounds. The Bearcats also had three players hit for nine points, including Wright who shook off an 0-for-4 shooting performance and produced seven assists, five steals and five rebounds.

Sophomore guard Jimmy Gray and freshman guard Robert Mansell added nine points as well. Mansell hit 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

The game was slowed by 39 fouls - 22 in the second half.

Jabbi was selected as the America East Player of the Game, sponsored by Security Mutual Life.

The Bearcats host first-time opponent St. Peter's Tuesday night.

The game was just the sixth meeting all-time between two schools separated by less than 50 miles. The Bearcats have won two of the three games in the series since elevating to Division I.

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