By Brian Delaney
ITHACA -- Forward Kareem Maddox, a 6-foot-8 senior, hit a 12-foot floater with 10 seconds left, then blocked Mark Coury's put-back attempt on a frantic final possession as visiting Princeton escaped Newman Arena with a 57-55 Ivy League men's basketball win over Cornell on Saturday night.
Cornell had no answer for the athletic, 230-pound Maddox, who finished with 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 7-for-10 marksmanship from the line.
Maddox's block on Coury was his fourth of the game. The loose ball found its way to Errick Peck, who swung it to Drew Ferry on the wing. Ferry's game-winning 3-point attempt missed left, and the Tigers (19-4, 7-0) celebrated their seventh straight league win.
"There's something we can build on even from this loss," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "We played a game against the best team in the league when we didn't hit shots and we're still right there with a chance to win it. I'm very proud of my kids tonight."
Cornell fell to 6-16 overall and 2-6 in league play, despite one of its best efforts this season. Coming off an overtime win Friday over Penn, the Big Red gave Princeton fits with a pressuring defense intent on speeding up the Tigers.
Princeton committed 18 turnovers and played large chunks without standout guard Dan Mavraides, who finished with zero points in 18 foul-plagued minutes.
Chris Wroblewski's 14 points, four assists and four steals paced Cornell. Peck had 13 points, and Coury had 10 points and six rebounds.
Neither team shot well from the three-point arc: Cornell finished three of 17, and Princeton missed seven of its eight attempts.
"I liked how we held our composure," Princeton coach Sydney Johnson said. "I felt Cornell played tremendously well. They play very hard at home, and somehow, someway we were able to just not give in."
Cornell took a 55-53 lead on two Wroblewski free throws with 2:29 left.
Maddox tied it 32 seconds later on a layup, but missed the go-ahead free throw attempt. Cornell had two attempts to take the lead, but Wroblewski missed a jumper and Coury couldn't connect on a baseline hook shot.
Princeton called time out with 37 seconds left and a six-second differential on the shot clock. The Tigers bled the clock, and Mavraides worked a high pick-and-roll with Maddox, who finished the play with his two biggest points of the night.
"Give him all the credit in the world. Maddox had a great game," Wroblewski said. "We threw everything we had at him. We tried doubling down. We threw Wire, Peck at him. He's a great player. He's versatile. In the Ivy League, there's not many guys who can match up with that. I'm very impressed. He's made great strides. I didn't think he was that kind of player last year."
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Senior Kareem Maddox, one of the leading candidates for the 2010-11 Ivy League Player of the Year, made two huge plays in the final minute as Princeton escaped Newman Arena with a 57-55 victory over Cornell on Saturday evening. The win kept the Tigers in first place, improving to 19-4 (7-0 Ivy), while the Big Red slipped to 6-16 (2-6 Ivy).
Maddox tied the score with just under two minutes to play in the second half, then hit the go-ahead jumper on a broken play with 10 seconds to play. The senior then made his own bucket stand up, blocking what appeared to be a game-tying putback attempt by Mark Coury with two seconds to play, His block was scooped up by Big Red junior Drew Ferry, whose 3-point attempt was just left as the horn sounded. The 6-8 Maddox finished the contest with a game-high23 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, as well as three assists and a steal in 35 minutes. He hit on 8-of-10 field goals from the field and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line. He was the only Tiger in double figures.
Cornell placed three in double figures, with junior Chris Wroblewski leading the way with 14 points, four assists and four steals. Errick Peck had 13 points and two blocked shots and Mark Coury notched 10 points, six rebounds a block and a steal. As a team, the Big Red forced 18 Tiger turnovers and picked up 11 steals. Defensively, Cornell limited the Tigers to 1-of-8 from beyond the arc and held the team's top two scorers, Ian Hummer and Dan Mavraides, combined to shoot just 1-of-9 from the field for six points.
Johnathan Gray had a solid noght off the bench for Cornell with nine points, three rebounds and three assists, while Josh Figini had a great energetic performance with seven points, three rebounds and two steals in 13 minutes of action.
The ending was a highlight, but not the only highlight, of a game that see-sawed back and forth all evening. The Tigers controlled the first half, but never led by more than six as the scrappy Big Red kept it close. Coury hit a pair of jumper in the final four minutes of the half to get Cornell within two, but a little jumper by Brendan Connolly made the halftime lead four for the visitors.
The second half seemingly belonged to Cornell, who was the aggressor, but Princeton answered every big play with a momentum-stopping one of its own. A layup by Wroblewski and a 3-pointer by Figini opened the second half to give Cornell the lead less than two minutes into the second half. A banked 3-pointer by Gray as the shot clock expired made it 34-32 Cornell. The Big Red lead grew to as many as six (40-34) on a vicious dunk by Peck with 12:23 remaining. A 10-2 Tigers run reclaimed the lead for the Ivy leaders, with five points coming from Maddox. The lead traded hands four more times over the final 10 minutes, with the Big Red taking its last lead on a pair of free throws by Wroblewski after an emphatic blocked shot by Peck on Maddox kept the game knotted at 53-53. Princeton was able to claw out the win with its play in the final two minutes.
Cornell returns to action on Friday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. when it plays host to Harvard at Newman Arena.
Was it easy? Hardly.
One of those seniors, Kareem Maddox, scored Princeton's final four points and had a huge blocked shot in the final seconds to save Saturday night's game with a 57-55 win.
The victory breaks a four-game losing streak in the last Ivy building in which any of the current Tigers had yet to win.
Maddox led Princeton (19-4, 7-0 Ivy) with a game-high 23 points, hitting 8 of 10 from the field and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line while being credited with four blocked shots in all.
His two baskets in the final two minutes ended a scoreless streak for the Tigers of 3:44 during which Cornell (6-16, 2-6) scored seven straight points to erase a five-point Princeton lead at 53-48 at the 5:41 mark.
Maddox drove to the basket to tie the game at 55-55 with 1:57 to play, and with Princeton holding on for the next-to-last possession of the game, hit a mid-range jumper to put the Tigers ahead 57-55 with 10 seconds left.
"We were up five, we kind of let it get away from us, and then we dug in our heels and kept defending and found a way to win the game," Sydney Johnson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach said.
But Maddox wasn't done ensuring that his last visit to Newman Arena would end with a win. Maddox rejected Mark Coury's attempt to tie the game in the closing seconds, and the Tigers escaped when Drew Ferry's 3-point try missed left at the buzzer.
Johnson knows what Maddox can do.
"He can defend. He can cause problems for people offensively," Johnson said. "The last few games, he's been the one who has shared the ball as much as anybody on our team, and that's contagious."
With the win in the books, the historical references continue for the Tigers, who are 7-0 in the Ivy for the first time since 1999. This year's Princeton team is the 30th in Ivy League history to be undefeated at the midway point, and 25 of those teams were Penn (14) or Princeton (11) squads.
The sweep of the Columbia-Cornell trip is also Princeton's first since 2004.
While Princeton was more on-target from the field than Cornell 47.6% to 39.2%, outrebounded the Big Red 31-24, and blocked eight shots to Cornell's four, two key areas kept the Big Red in the game. Princeton also held Cornell to its second-fewest points this season, as only St. Bonaventure, with 54 on Nov. 19, held the Big Red to fewer.
Princeton was a Douglas Davis 3-pointer three minutes into the second half away from ending a 25-year streak of making one from beyond the arc in every game since the shot's inception. The Tigers finished 1 for 8 from distance, and Cornell wasn't much better at 3 of 17.
Cornell also forced 18 turnovers, the most for Princeton since a Dec. 17 game at Wagner that the Tigers won despite also having 18 giveaways.
Maddox was the only Tiger in double figures for Princeton, though Davis and Brendan Connolly were a bucket away with nine and eight points respectively.
Princeton's other two players who are averaging double-digit points this season, Ian Hummer and Dan Mavraides, had nights opposite from Friday's blowout win over Columbia. Hummer had a career-high 25 points against the Lions but was limited to six against the Big Red. Mavraides, saddled with four fouls, was held scoreless after putting in 17 at Columbia.
The road trip will continue next weekend for Princeton, which opened with five straight Ivy League games at home. Yale will welcome the Tigers Friday, followed by a visit to Brown Saturday.
For each of the past three years, the seniors on the men’s basketball team have entered Cornell’s Newman Arena, and for each of the past three years, Princeton has left Ithaca in defeat. But senior guard and tri-captain Kareem Maddox was tired of losing at Cornell (6-16 overall, 2-6 Ivy League), and for the first time in the seniors’ careers, the Tigers beat the Big Red on the road, 57-55.
Maddox netted two huge baskets in the final two minutes to regain the lead after Cornell roared back with seven unanswered points to go up by two with two minutes, 29 seconds to go. With the lead in hand, Maddox emphatically blocked Cornell center Mark Coury’s last-second jumper to escape Ithaca with the win.
“We ran our play,” Maddox said of his game-winning jumper with 10 seconds remaining. “Time’s winding down; I just took the shot and it happened to go in ... [We’re] just trying to get out of here with a win.”
Maddox’s rejection capped off a historic weekend for Princeton, which won against Columbia (13-9, 4-4) on Friday 76-46, the Tigers’ largest margin of victory in New York since the series began in 1901. Princeton then broke a four-game losing streak against Cornell on Saturday, capping its first sweep of the Columbia-Cornell trip in seven years and improving to 7-0 in the Ivy League for the first time since 1999.
The Tigers gutted out a tight contest in Ithaca on Saturday. The game remained close early on, with the teams drawing even five times in the first half, and Princeton led by just 28-24 at halftime. Princeton held Cornell to 1-10 shooting from beyond the three-point line in the first period.
“These guys are phenomenal three-point shooters. If you can take that away, it’s better for us,” head coach Sydney Johnson ’97 said.
The second half retained the back-and-forth nature of the first, with five more ties and six lead changes, capped by Maddox’s two field goals at the end of the game. Senior guard Dan Mavraides went scoreless for the game after spending most of it in foul trouble, and sophomore guard Ian Hummer struggled with only six points, injuring his left elbow late in the second half. Johnson was forced to look to the bench for help down the stretch, and sophomore forward Mack Darrow and freshmen guards Ben Hazel and T.J. Bray stepped up to hold back Cornell.
“It’s a chess match, but it’s played off of guys getting better and making contributions that make me comfortable to get them out there,” Johnson said of his substitution pattern.
Friday’s result was hardly ever in doubt. Columbia hung tough for the first 10 minutes, but the Tigers soon ran away with the game. Princeton shot 61 percent overall and 60 percent from outside the arc in the first half and led the Lions 42-26 at halftime. The Tigers combined a solid all-around effort with some fiery shooting to produce their lead at the half.
“They made loose ball plays — 50-50 balls or long rebounds that we seemed to come up with,” Johnson said. “They got a block or tipped ball, and we had a couple of guys ... saving a ball and throwing it to a teammate before it goes out of bounds. Things like that are huge, and I hope that they appreciate that, because that was how we were able to establish ourselves before the half.”
Princeton did not allow anything for Columbia in the second half, limiting the Lions to just four field goals and 14 percent shooting from the field. The Tigers were especially effective in limiting the Ivy League’s leading scorer, Noruwa Agho, to only 6-16 shooting, though he netted 16 points. Hummer recorded a double-double with a career high 25 points and 12 rebounds.
“We kind of guarded [Agho] as a team,” Mavraides said. “We kept to our defensive principles in terms of guarding him, and he didn’t have a great shooting night, so that definitely benefitted us.”
Around the league, Harvard played a tough rivalry game against Yale and trailed Brown by 22 points at halftime, but the Crimson recovered to win both contests, remaining a half-game behind Princeton.
The Tigers took their first road test of Ivy League play in stride, avenged four years of Big Red domination and made history against the Lions. Princeton continues on the road with trips to Yale and Brown this weekend.
Cornell Daily Sun
The Red nearly knocked Princeton out of its first place slot in Newman Arena on Saturday before Kareem Maddox’s two points for the Tigers allowed his team to edge out the win over Cornell, 57-55. The back and forth game came down to the last minutes of play, when the Red couldn’t get the offensive plays it needed to come out with a victory against this top-ranked opponent.
“They were so athletic, in particular Maddox, and at the end of the day it came out that they made some plays and we didn’t,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We played a game against the best team in the league where we didn’t make shots and we were still right there with a chance to win.”
After Maddox tied up the score with under two minutes left to play, he put Princeton (19-4, 7-0 Ivy League) ahead by two with about 10 seconds to go in the game. Cornell (6-16, 2-6) tried its best to reverse the Tigers’ lead and took back possession in the final seconds, but couldn’t sink the shot.
Junior guard Andrew Ferry took a three-point shot at the buzzer that just missed the net, in a last ditch effort for the Red to claim the lead.
“Coach [Courtney] said that if they score we want to push it and be aggressive and not let them set up,” said junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski. “With 10 seconds left we were down two and I tried to keep my composure throughout the whole game, but it’s tough. ... I wouldn’t want anyone else shooting that 3 but Ferry.”
The Red proved adept defensively throughout the game in working to block the Tigers’ main scorers, shutting out Princeton’s Dan Mavraides and allowing his teammate Ian Hummer only six points.
“Two things about our defense — we wanted to pressure them and take them off their offense and I think we were successful at doing that at times, but the times we didn’t do that the other key was to stop them from posting up,” Courtney said.
Cornell held its own defensively, not letting the Tigers open the scoring gap in the first half. The Red trailed by four at the half, with the score at 24-28 at the break.
“This was the kind of game plan we wanted. We wanted Maddox and Hummer. We knew they were big keys and we wanted to confuse them and bring a lot of pressure,” Wroblewski said. “They definitely had size and athleticism on us and we tried to use more of our depth. We played a lot of our guys and tried to push up the tempo.”
Cornell dominated much of the second half and led by six at one point. However, Maddox, one of the League’s top players and contender for Ivy League Player of the Year award, proved to be a challenge to slow down.
“[Maddoz] had matchups where we’d have two or three guys around him and he just jumps in the air—like with that rebound in the first half—when we boxed him out and he just jumps over guys to get it,” Courtney said. “There’s not a lot we could have done differently to guard that guy.”
Maddox put 23 points up on the board for Princeton, blocked four shots, took six rebounds and managed three assists.
“We threw everything we had at him—we tried doubling down and threw [Adam] Wire and [Errick] Peck on him—he’s just a great player,” Wroblewski said.
Princeton put the pressure on Cornell, and made it hard for the Red to come away with many threes. Cornell made three of its attempted 17 three-pointers, while Princeton was one for eight.
“I don’t know that they took it away. I just think we missed shots. I give credit to their defense for challenging some shots but some of the looks that Max [Groebe] and Andrew [Ferry] got were the same exact ones they got last night and they just didn’t go into the basket,” Courtney said. “Between Chris, Andrew and Max we went zero for nine. When that happens it’s going to be tough for our team to win.”
Though the Red didn’t take the win, Cornell can build on the way it played this weekend, both in nearly beating this top-ranked League opponent and in topping Penn in Friday’s overtime win.
“I thought we could have pulled it out and I thought no team in the Ivy League is head and shoulders better than anyone else on any given night,” Wroblewski said. “We’re definitely playing better as a unit and as a team regardless of what the score was against Princeton.”
On offense, Wroblewski led the Red with 14 points and Errick Peck was right behind with 13.
“We’re getting better and we need to continue to keep working one day at a time, one game at a time [and] one week at a time,” Courtney said.
“I think that we’re much more comfortable with each other on the offensive end,” Wroblewski said. “With this game it doesn’t really reflect in the score because Princeton plays such a slower pace of a game, but this is something to build on and we’re looking forward to where the team is going.”