Sunday, January 16, 2011

Game Recap: Cornell Falls Short at Columbia

(Photo Gene Boyars)
Below, game recaps from Cornell's defeat on Saturday at Columbia...

By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal
January 16, 2011

NEW YORK -- Columbia snapped a nine-game losing streak to Cornell, getting big play after big play to withstand a ferocious Big Red comeback in a 79-75 victory Saturday night at Levien Gymnasium.

It was the Ivy League men's basketball opener for both teams.

Cornell, the three-time defending champion, lost its league opener for the first time since 2005.

Columbia's backcourt of junior Noruwa Agho and sophomore Brian Barbour scored 25 and 21 points, respectively. The pair was key down the stretch, as Cornell fought back from a 14-point halftime deficit.

The Big Red's Drew Ferry made seven of eight 3-point shots after halftime, most of which came with a hand in his face.

Cornell endured a dismal first half offensively, shooting 29.4 percent and missing 10 of 11 from the arc.

Three key Cornell frontcourt members, Mark Coury, Aaron Osgood and Adam Wire, were saddled with foul trouble.

Cornell shot 62.1 percent in the second half (18-for-29), and pulled within a possession five times down the stretch, but the Lions (10-5, 1-0) had an answer each time.

Freshman Steve Frankoski sank two free throws with 18 seconds left to make it 78-75. Cornell's Chris Wroblewski (14 points, seven assists) missed a 3-pointer, and Agho made one of two from the line with six seconds left to ice it.

The two teams play at 4 p.m. next Saturday in Ithaca.

Box Score

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- A wild and frenetic second half ended the way so may of Cornell's games have during the 2010-11 season ... with a narrow loss. The Big Red nearly overcame a 14-point halftime deficit and missed a shot to tie with 13 seconds to play in a 79-75 loss at Columbia on Saturday evening at Levien Gymnasium. Cornell dropped to 4-11 (0-1 Ivy), while the Lions improved to 10-5 (1-0 Ivy) in the Ivy opener for both squads.

Junior guard Drew Ferry scored 23 points and hit on seven 3-pointers, including six in the second half, while both Errick Peck and Chris Wroblewski scored 14 points apiece. Peck added six rebound and three blocked shots, while Wroblewski was credited with seven assists. The visitors shot 62 percent from the floor after halftime and 70 percent from 3-point range (7-of-10) after the break. Cornell outscored the Lions 52-42 after halftime, cutting the deficit to one at one point before falling. The Big Red defense forced 18 Columbia turnovers, with nine steals and six blocked shots. Senior Adam Wire chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and two steals and Aaron Osgood recorded a team-high seven rebounds, blocked two shots and stole two passes.

Noruwa Agho scored a game-high 25 points, including a backbreaking 3-pointer late in the shot clock with less than two minutes to play in regulation. He added six rebounds to his totals. Brian Barbour scored 21 points and hit all seven of his free throws and Both Mark Cisco (14 points, seven rebounds) and Steve Frankoski (11 points, four rebounds) were also in double figures. The Lions hit on 47 percent of its field goals and limited the backcourt of Ferry and Wroblewski to 1-of-16 shooting in the first 20 minutes to take a lead the Big Red could never overcome.


The Big Red returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 22 when it faces the same Lions at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall. Gametime is set for 4:30 p.m.

NEW YORK – Noruwa Agho tallied 25 points and Brian Barbour added 21 as the Columbia men's basketball team opened Ivy League play with a 79-75 win over Cornell in front of 2,104 fans at Levien Gymnasium on Saturday evening. The Lions opened up a 37-23 lead at halftime and withstood a furious Big Red comeback attempt to improve to 10-5 on the year and 1-0 in the Ivy League. Cornell led 16-12 seven minutes into the game before the Lions went on a 16-2 run, sparked by five straight points from Agho. Cornell eventually got to within eight points, 31-23, on a Josh Figini layup with 2:43 left in the half but the Lions closed out the half with six straight points to take a 14-point advantage into halftime. Columbia maintained a double-digit lead over the opening minutes of the second half even as Cornell began to find its hot hand after the Big Red shot 29.4 percent in the opening stanza. The hot hand was Drew Ferry. After scoring three points in the first half, Ferry exploded for 20 points in the second half, including four three-pointers in a five-minute span that cut the Columbia deficit to a point, 54-53, at the 9:44 mark. Mark Cisco then converted a bucket underneath and blocked a shot on the other end to key a five-point swing that ended on an Agho three-pointer to put Columbia back ahead by six, 59-53. Cornell would continue to hang in the game as Columbia could not push its lead beyond seven points for the rest of the game. Agho's three-pointer with 1:42 left gave the Lions a 76-70 advantage but five straight points by Chris Wroblewski, who was scoreless in the first half, made it a one-point game again with 24 seconds left. Cornell fouled Steve Frankoski on the ensuing inbounds pass and the rookie calmly sank both free throws to put Columbia ahead 78-75 with 18 seconds left. Wroblewski came down the court and fired a 27-foot three-pointer that went just long and a Cornell player stepped out of bounds trying to save the long rebound, giving possession back to the Lions. After Agho made one of two free throws with six seconds left, Columbia led 79-75 and was able to celebrate starting the Ivy League season at 1-0 after the final horn sounded. Columbia had four players in double figures, led by Agho's 25, the third straight game he's scored at least 20 points. Barbour matched his career high with 21 points, the fifth straight game he has scored in double figures. Cisco added 14 points and seven rebounds and Frankoski finished with 11. Ferry's 23 led Cornell, which also received 14 points from Wroblewski and Errick Peck. The Lions and Big Red will meet again next Saturday, January 22 at Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y. Game time is slated for 4:30 p.m. NOTES: Columbia has won three straight and seven of its last eight games ... each of Columbia's last 10 games have been decided by six points or fewer ... Columbia shot 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) from the foul line ... the Lions outrebounded Cornell 40-30 on the boards but the Big Red held an 18-17 edge on the offensive glass ... Cisco had two blocked shots for the third straight game ... Barbour is averaging 16.6 points in his last five games ... Agho has scored 963 points in his career ... it was the tenth time this season that Columbia has scored more than 70 points in a game ... the Lions broke the 70-point plateau just five times during the 2009-10 season ... the win was Columbia's first over Cornell in the previous 10 games ... Columbia last started the Ivy League season at 1-0 in the 2006-07 campaign ... the Lions have a 4-1 record on Saturdays ... Columbia is 7-0 when shooting at least 45 percent from the field.

The Columbia Spectator

Starting off Ivy League play with two games against Cornell each season has always been a struggle for the Lions. In fact, they haven’t beaten the Big Red since 2006, starting the past four seasons in an 0-2 hole.

Tonight at Levien gymnasium, those “Beat Cornell” shirts all around campus finally came through with their prediction. The Light Blue beat the defending Ancient Eight champs 79-75 in front of a packed house of 2,104 fans.

After jumping out to a 37-23 halftime lead, the Lions struggled in the second half, allowing Cornell to sneak back into the game until cutting it to 76-75 with only one minute left. The Light Blue held on for the win thanks to some clutch free throw shooting late in the game.

“We’ve had leads of fourteen points or more and let them slip, so I think everyone’s a little more comfortable,” point guard Brian Barbour said. “Everyone’s a little less nervous. We’re like, ‘We’ve been here before, and we can pull this one off.’”

The Lions jumped out to the 14-point lead thanks to junior shooting guard Noruwa Agho’s 11 points, who eventually finished with a team high 25. The Lions also held the Big Red to 29.4 percent shooting from the field in the first twenty minutes, highlighted by junior guard Chris Wroblewski’s 0-for-10 performance to start the game. This was a stunning change of play from his last game against Stony Brook, where he shot 8-13 from the field for 29 points.

“We tried to focus on his tendencies," Agho said. "We had a great scout, we kind of knew what he liked, and guys played good solid defense. We didn’t try to do too much, just keep the ball in front and get a hand on the shot. You know, he’s a great player, and I’m sure he won’t start 0-11 the rest of the season.”

The comeback was largely fueled by Cornell guard Drew Ferry, who led the Big Red with 23 points—21 of which came off his 7-11 three-point shooting.

“The only thing you can really do is switch [the run around the pick],” Agho said. “Sometimes there’s only so much you can do.”

Head coach Kyle Smith agreed.

“That was one of the best performances I’ve seen in this gym,” he said.

Of course, Smith hasn’t seen to many games at Levien in his first season sitting on the bench, so he wasn’t around last year to watch Cornell’s dominating center Jeff Foote in action.

“Last year they gave it to Jeff Foote, and he takes the ball and makes a move,” sophomore center Mark Cisco said. “This year they have a lot more ball screens so you’re focusing on the plays instead of just him.”

The Lions will hope to continue their success next week when they travel up to Ithaca for a rematch. Perhaps Cornell will be the New York team to start off the season in an 0-2 hole this time around.


Anonymous said...

Give Columbia credit. They remained poised after giving up the big second half Cornell comeback. It's more common to get rattled in that situation than it is to stay calm.

I would be very surprised to see Cornell finish higher than Harvard, Princeton, Columbia or Yale.

Anonymous said...

The BR AD story: The Big Red returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 22 when it faces the same Lions at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall. Gametime is set for 4:30 p.m.

Yours' has the game at 4:00

Anonymous said...

What a great game. Both teams competed at a high level. Fun to get back into some intense Ivy games. Really looking forward to the game at Newman next week.

Jake Matthews. Kid's a competitor. Good things happen when he's on the floor. Will grow into fan favorite over career. I love seeing this guy get minutes - always productive from a team standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Disappointing first half. But I really liked the way the guys battled in the second half on the road in an intense environment.

In the second half, that was a nice rotation of guys who played with energy and just battled and competed, regardless of size or strategy.

And, we seem to play best when we play one big guy with Peck at the four and three smaller guards who battle defensively ala Stony Brook and Wofford. That always seems to be the lineup that gets us back in the game after a terrible start, so maybe we should start with that lineup.

Keep battling and competing like that second half vs Columbia. When you do that, the offensive production and wins (and "chemistry") will follow. This team has enough talent to win. They are very close and there are going to be alot of close games in the Ivy League this year.

Anonymous said...

Bummer. At least spring training starts next month -- counting the days until pitchers and catchers report.

It's gonna be some time before Cornell can legitimately compete for the Ivy crown. Harvard is a good team that's going to get much better and is losing no one to graduation. Plus, they've got a stellar recruiting class coming in. Cornell's class is good, but I'd trade our class for theirs in a heartbeat. Sucks that Amaker is going to get rewarded for his questionable (ie dirty) recruiting methods.