Saturday, January 29, 2011

Game Recap: Cornell Struggles Continue, Fall at Dartmouth

Below, game recaps from Cornell's 64-57 defeat at Dartmouth on Friday night...

Ithaca Journal

HANOVER, N.H. -- A frustrating season got worse Friday night for the Cornell men's basketball team.

There seems no reprieve in sight, either.

Host Dartmouth thoroughly outplayed the Big Red from start to finish, building a 17-point halftime lead and extending it to as many as 28 points in the second half before polishing off a stunning 64-57 outcome at Leede Arena.

Cornell coach Bill Courtney ripped his team for a lack of effort, saying there was "no excuse for that." He said he had no indication, aside from a sluggish practice Wednesday, that the team wouldn't be ready to play.

"We just came out with very little energy, very little focus, very little execution," he said.

Dartmouth (5-12, 1-2 Ivy League) was picked in the preseason media poll to finish last in the eight-team league, but is now 3-3 at Leede.

Cornell (4-13) endured a miserable first half in dropping to 0-3 in the Ivy League heading into Saturday night's visit to league-leading Harvard. The Crimson (14-3, 3-0) beat Columbia on Friday, 77-66.

In other Ivy games, Princeton beat visiting Brown, 78-60; Penn beat visiting Yale, 66-58.

The Big Red scored just 14 first-half points, and did not record a two-point field goal until two minutes into the second half. It committed 13 turnovers against Dartmouth's ball-hawking defense and finished with 19.

For Dartmouth (5-12, 1-2 Ivy), which is rebuilding under first-year coach Paul Cormier, the victory ended a 10-game losing streak in the series.

The Big Green shot 48 percent from the field and outrebounded Cornell, 40-32. R.J. Griffin led a balanced scoring effort with 11 points, and David Rufful added 10. Three other players had nine apiece.

Errick Peck scored 20 points for Cornell, the bulk of which came in the second half. Dartmouth easily extended its 31-14 halftime lead into a 48-20 cushion and was never threatened.

"We've got to do a lot of soul-searching as a group," said Courtney, whose team has less than 24 hours to regroup.

Late Rally Falls Short As Men's Basketball Falls At Dartmouth

Box Score

HANOVER, N.H. -- Cornell nearly rallied all the way back from a 28-point second half deficit but ran out of time as Dartmouth claimed a 64-57 victory over the Big Red on Friday evening at Leede Arena. The Big Green improved to 5-12 (1-2 Ivy), while the Big Red slipped to 4-13 (0-3 Ivy).

Sophomore Errick Peck had 20 points, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks, and Chris Wroblewski chipped in 16 points and four assists, but Cornell couldn't overcome a sluggish first half. Cornell cut the deficit to six and missed two 3-point attempts in the final 15 seconds that could have gotten the visitors within four. Johnathan Gray had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench for Cornell, which hit 11 3-pointers on the night but turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 19 times, including 13 times in the first half.

Dartmouth used balanced scoring and an efficient offense to cruise to the big lead before turnovers of their own let Cornell back into the game. R.J. Griffin posted 11 points and David Rufful added 10 to go along with eight rebounds. Dartmouth shot 48 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Big Red 40-32.

The Big Red took an early 10-8 lead after a 3-pointer by Gray five minutes in, but a 12-0 Dartmouth run over 5:52 turned the tables and put Cornell in a 10-point hole at 20-10. The visitors would score just four points over the final 14:25 of the half, and Dartmouth ended the half on a 23-4 run to take a 17-point bulge into the break (31-14). Cornell didn't connect on a two-point field goal in the first half, making 4-of-10 shots from beyond the arc, but missing all six of its shots inside the 3-point line.

The second half didn't start any better, as the Big Green opened on a 9-2 run over the first 3:40 to build the lead to 40-16. That lead would extend to 48-20 with 12 minutes to play when Trotter nailed a 3-pointer.

From there, Cornell chipped away at the lead. It was still a 19-point Dartmouth lead with 4:21 to play, but Cornell went with full-court pressure and made a run. A steal by Peck ended with a pair of free throws, then the sophomore stepped out and hit a trey. A steal and two free throws by Gray made it a 12-point game, and another steal and layup by Peck made it 56-46. Peck hit another free throw, Gray rebounded his miss and put it back, and Wroblewski hit a pair of layups to get within 63-57 with 16 seconds left. Dartmouth hit a free throw after Cornell immediately fouled and made just one, and Cornell got a pair of cracks from beyond the arc. Both rimmed out and Dartmouth held on to its first Ivy win of the season.

Cornell returns to action to face Harvard tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Lavietes Pavilion.

HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth held visiting Cornell to a paltry four field goals in the first half — all from three-point range — then held on to defeat the Big Red at Leede Arena on Friday night, 64-57. Six players scored between eight and 11 points for the Big Green, led by sophomore R.J. Griffin’s 11 as Dartmouth (5-12, 1-2 Ivy) ended a five-game losing streak and a personal 10-game skid against Cornell (4-13, 0-3 Ivy), which got a game-high 20 points from Errick Peck.

All told, the Big Red was held to just 33.3 percent shooting (18-of-54) on the night, and a paltry 25.0 percent (4-of-16). From inside the arc, Cornell went 0-for-6 in the opening stanza as it scored just 14 points while committing 13 turnovers.

Dartmouth, on the other hand, posted its second-best accuracy from the floor this season at 48.0 percent (24-of-50) and won the battle on the boards, 40-32. But after leading by as many as 28 with 12 minutes to play, the Big Green coughed up the ball too often and allowed Cornell to battle back within six in the final minute before finishing off the win.

Cornell had the touch from the outside early with a trio of three-pointers — two from Chris Wroblewski — in four attempts for a 10-8 lead. But an outlet pass off a rebound from junior David Rufful to a streaking Griffin led to a fastbreak layup, setting off a 12-0 Dartmouth run that lasted nearly six minutes. Rufful capped the string with a trifecta from the left baseline corner to give the Green a 20-10 lead with eight minutes left in the half.

The Big Red’s Miles Asafo-Adjei drained a three from the top of the key to end the run, but turned out to be the only field goal for Cornell during the final 14:25 of the half as the Dartmouth defense completely stymied the Big Red attack. Freshman Tyler Melville canned a pair of foul shots before senior Clive Weeden knocked down a short jumper to boost the lead back to double digits. After Anthony Gatlin hit one-of-two at the line for the Big Red, Dartmouth tallied the final seven points before the break, four from rookie Gediminas Bertasius.

That first half was perhaps the best played by the Big Green all season, going 12-of-24 (.500) on their field goals while turning the ball over just five times. Eight of the nine players to take the court in the half scored for Dartmouth, led by Weeden with six.

When play resumed in the second half, the Green continued to dominate the action as they scored the first two buckets to extend the lead beyond 20 points. Dartmouth took a 40-16 lead after Weeden completed a three-point play and Griffin scored on another fastbreak.

Peck gave the Cornell faithful something to cheer after driving to the hoop for a dunk, but after another Big Red basket, Dartmouth ripped off eight straight points, punctuated by a three-pointer from the right wing by junior Jabari Trotter with barely 12 minutes to play. At that point, the Big Green led by 28 at 48-20 and were well on their way to cruising to victory.

To Cornell’s credit, it did not give in so easily, chipping away at the seemingly insurmountable lead. Peck sank two three-pointers and Drew Ferry added another during an 11-2 run, knocking the difference below 20 for the first time in nine minutes at 50-31. Melville drove the lane for a layup, but Wroblewski rained down two more triples to make it 52-37 with 5:22 to go.

Griffin and Melville scored on consecutive possessions, and at the last media timeout with 3:48 on the clock, Dartmouth enjoyed a 19-point advantage, 56-37. Still the Big Red would not go away, scoring nine straight points — seven by Peck — in less than a minute and a half.

The lead hovered between 10 and 14 before Cornell’s Johnathan Gray scored in the paint to get the Big Red within eight at 61-53 but just 52 seconds remaining. Griffin converted two free throws before Wroblewski scored twice in the span of seven seconds, bringing Cornell within six, the closest it had been since midway through the first half. Rufful hit one more free throw, and the clock ran out before the Big Red could do any more damage.

The frantic pressure by Cornell in the second half caused Dartmouth to turn the ball over 14 times in the frame, and a season-high 19 times in the game. But with 10 points and eight rebounds from Rufful, and both Weeden and Bertasius with nine points and seven rebounds to complement Griffin’s 11, the Big Green were able to fend off the Big Red’s mad dash to the end.

Dartmouth gets right back on the court at Leede Arena tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. as it hosts Columbia (11-6, 2-1 Ivy), which lost at Harvard this evening, 77-66. Cornell travels down the road to Cambridge to play at Harvard (14-3, 3-0 Ivy) Saturday night at 6 p.m.

The Dartmouth

The Dartmouth men’s basketball team split a pair of games this weekend at Leede Arena in the first full weekend of Ivy League play. The Big Green (5-13, 1-3 Ivy) prevailed over Cornell University, 64-57, on Friday night before dropping Saturday’s game to Columbia University by a score of 66-54.

Despite an uninspired second half, the Big Green was impressive on the defensive end on Friday, as it snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Big Red.

The Big Green was dominant, holding Cornell (4-14, 0-4 Ivy) without a two-point field goal in the first half and to 25 percent shooting overall in the first portion of the game. The Big Red had no success penetrating Dartmouth’s defense and instead had to resort to launching three-pointers, many of which were badly off-line.

Dartmouth came out focused, its energy and commitment to defense embodied by the play of David Rufful ’12, who made several hustle plays in the first half.

With just over four minutes to play in the period, Cornell sophomore guard Johnathan Gray was headed out of bounds as he attempted to corral a rebound off a missed three-pointer. Gray flung the ball off of Rufful in a desperate attempt to retain possession, but Rufful successfully lept to save it before it could land out of play.

Dartmouth used an 11-1 run to close the first half and headed to the locker room with a healthy 17-point lead.

“We had a game plan of really running them off the three, because we know [junior guards Chris Wroblewski and Drew Ferry] pretty much live and die by the three,” captain Clive Weeden ’11 said. “Our guards did a wonderful job on that, and we were switching everything.”

Wroblewski currently ranks third in the Ivy League in scoring, with 15 points per game, while Ferry averages just under 12 points.

Head coach Paul Cormier said he was pleased with the team’s defensive performance, especially because the Big Green — who ranks seventh in the league in total rebounding — hit the glass hard to prevent Cornell from getting any second chances on offense.

“I thought defensively, it was a terrific effort,” Cormier said. “We focused on no second shots. We’ve worked on the things that we can control, such as rebounding. I was pleased to see the rebounding [statistics]. We out-rebounded them by eight, which is a real positive.”

Although it is four games into League play, Dartmouth is still searching for an offensive identity. Its problem has been most apparent in the second half of the team’s last three games, when the team has been outscored by a total of 117-71. Dartmouth shot only a combined 31 percent from the field in the second half of those games and, in each case, the Big Green was either tied or leading at halftime.

Weeden said that in general, the team has failed to maintain its intensity while playing with a lead, allowing opponents to creep back into games. Yet against Cornell, the Big Green continued to build its lead in the first eight minutes of the second half by outworking the Big Red

The key play was a charging layup by Weeden down the middle of the lane just over three minutes into the half. Weeden drew contact from sophomore forward Errick Peck and crashed to the floor after putting up his shot. As he lay on the court, Weeden’s teammates picked him up and the crowd exploded into a frenzy.

Weeden hit the ensuing free throw to complete the three-point play and put Dartmouth up 38-16. The Big Green stretched the lead to 28 points, as Jabari Trotter ’12 hit a three-pointer with 12 minutes to play forging Dartmouth ahead, 48-20. From that point, however, the Big Green stalled offensively, and Cornell chipped away at the lead before ultimately running out of time in the game.

Cormier said Dartmouth must become more aggressive on offense in the second half, citing that the Big Green held a 28-point lead with 12 minutes to play but ended up winning by just seven.

“I was disappointed in the second half, the amount of turnovers we had,” Cormier said, referring to the team’s 14 giveaways. “I felt we stopped going to the basket a little bit, so there was no threat of scoring. So Cornell could afford to trap us, and if it didn’t work, we weren’t punishing them for the way they were playing.”

Both coaching staffs at the game wore sneakers on the sidelines as part of the seventh annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend. All League coaches participated, as did well-known coaches like Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University and Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina.

Dartmouth was not as fortunate the following night, as Columbia (12-6, 3-1 Ivy) outscored the Big Green by a 41-20 margin in the second half to win, 66-45. The teams entered the break tied at 25, but the Lions used a sizeable advantage at the free throw line to pull away from the Big Green. Although Dartmouth was able to hold the Ivy League’s leading scorer — Lions junior guard Noruwa Agho — to 4-of-13 shooting, Agho was six of six from the free throw line and still managed to tally a game-high 16 points.

Overall, Columbia converted 20 of 25 free throw opportunities, while Dartmouth was just 11 of 25 in the first half and seven of 17 in the second half from the line.

The loss to Columbia was the latest example of the Big Green’s offensive woes, which are centered around the team’s lack of a playmaker. No Dartmouth player averages more than 9.2 points per game or shoots better than 47 percent from the field.

In the win over Cornell, no Dartmouth player hit double figures until R.J. Griffin ’13 hit two free throws in the final minute to give him a team-high 11 points.

For the second year in a row, Dartmouth sits last in the Ivy League in scoring average and field goal percentage, averaging just 58 points per game while shooting 38.3 percent. The numbers represent a slight improvement over last year’s 54 points per game and 38.1 percent shooting.

The Big Green’s offensive troubles have been worsened with the absence of captain Ronnie Dixon ’11, who went down with a broken right hand on Dec. 20 and has not played since. Dixon hopes to return sometime in February.

Dartmouth now sits sixth in the Ivy League standings with a 1-3 conference record. Three schools remain unbeaten in conference play, led by Harvard University at 4-0. The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, Dartmouth’s next two opponents, are both 2-0 in the Ivy League after sweeping their fixtures this weekend.

Cormier said that while traditional powers Penn and Princeton represent a challenge, there are now other quality League programs.

“I think the League is very competitive,” Cormier. “There’s more than just the two top teams. It was Penn, Princeton and every fourth or fifth year one of us would put a scare into them. Now there’s four or five teams up top that are really good.”

Dartmouth plays Penn at the historic Palestra in Philadelphia on Friday before traveling to Princeton to face the Tigers the following night.

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