Sunday, February 20, 2011

Game Recaps: Dartmouth at Cornell

Cornell's Chris Wroblewski is double-teamed by Darmouth during the first half at Newman Arena in Ithaca on Saturday night. Photo Ithaca Journal. Below, recaps from Saturday's action.

By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal

ITHACA -- The way Cornell shot the ball Saturday night, defense was merely a luxury.

Redeeming themselves against a last-place Dartmouth team that "embarrassed" the Big Red in Hanover on Jan. 28, Cornell shot 56.9 percent from the field and tied a season-high for 3-pointers in a 96-76 blowout of the Big Green at Newman Arena.

Sophomore Errick Peck scored 22 points, hitting four straight 3-pointers over the first 4 minutes, 5 seconds of the second half. During that span Drew Ferry also drained a 3, and Chris Wroblewski made it a 6-for-6 start with a tough shot off the glass.

"Once you get in a comfort zone, you just keep hoisting them up and they just keep going in," Peck said.

It was that kind of night for Cornell (7-17, 3-7 Ivy League), which rebounded from a 73-60 loss to Harvard on Friday night. The Crimson (20-4, 9-1), which won 61-42 at Columbia on Saturday, moved into first place after Brown's stunning 75-65 upset of Princeton (20-5, 8-1) in Providence, R.I.

Cornell made 16 of 29 attempts from the three-point arc, a 55.2 percent clip. Peck, Max Groebe (14 points) and Ferry (14 points) were each 4-for-6, and Wroblewski (19 points, 9 assists) was 3-for-4. Reserve guard Johnathan Gray was the only Big Red shooter to have an off-night (0-for-4), but made up for it with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

Cornell lost at Dartmouth 64-57 on Jan. 28, trailing by as many as 28 points. Since then, the Big Red's improvement has been steady.

"We're trusting each other a lot more," Gray said. "Practices are going extremely well; we're all playing extremely intense and I think the level of intensity in practices is moving on to the games."

Neither team defended with much conviction, a common occurrence for teams in late February that are already mathematically eliminated from the league championship race.

Dartmouth shot 54.2 percent from the field (26-for-48), led by R.J. Griffin's 18 points. But the Big Green didn't bother to defend the three-point line, and Cornell's deep bevy of shooters feasted.

"We couldn't get a stop on defense in the second half," Wroblewski said. "If Errick hadn't hit those 3's and Max doesn't hit a couple, it would be a totally different game. It was great to see everyone make shots."

A trio of 3's from Ferry sparked an 11-2 first-half run, changing a 22-21 game to 33-23. Dartmouth cut the deficit to seven just before half, but Wroblewski extended it back to 12 with a jumper and a 3 of his own. Then came Peck's sizzling display at the start of the second half, with Cornell eventually opening up a 25-point lead.

The Big Red has four games left in the season: a road trip through Princeton and Penn next weekend, followed by home games on March 5 and 6 against Brown and Yale.

"I think it was very important for us to play well to get a win," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "In particular, get that bad taste out of our mouths."

Notes: Peck's 22 points were a career-high. ... Freshman Jake Matthews scored a career-high 10 points in 12 minutes. ... Cornell had six scorers in double figures. ... Attendance was 1,748.

By Tim Weisberg

To live and die by the three was the best place for the Cornell men’s basketball team to be, shooting 55 percent from behind the arc en route to a 96-76 victory over Dartmouth Saturday night at Newman Arena.

Errick Peck led the way for the Big Red (7-17, 3-7 Ivy League) with 22 points, including four of six from behind the arc to keep the Big Green (5-19, 1-9) at bay.

Peck made all four threes early in the second half, the last of which gave the Big Red a 66-49 edge over the Big Green with just under 16 minutes to play.

According to Big Red guard Chris Wroblewski, the team came out with a bigger sense of urgency against a Big Green team that stunned the Big Red 64-57 on Jan. 29 in Hanover, N.H.

“I think this time around we came out a more desperate team,” Wroblewski said.

“We wanted to win a little more compared to the last time we played (Dartmouth)…that’s what was different. We played more aggressive this time around.”

The Big Red certainly has fallen from grace after finishing 29-5 the previous season and making it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

Thus for Big Red head coach Bill Courtney, any win this season is something to cherish.

“Every time you get a win you’re happy,” Courtney said. “They’re few and far between this year so you got to enjoy everyone that you get.”

According to Wroblewski, who scored 19 points, the win over the Big Green should give the Big Red a much-needed boost during a woeful season.

“To have some confidence moving forward,” Wroblewski said. “That’s been one of the biggest things we’ve been lacking this year is confidence so to have that is going to be a huge asset.”

The Big Red had six players score in double figures for the first time this season, but it was Wroblewski’s impressive performance that pleased Courtney.

“(Wroblewski) made the right plays tonight whether it was an open pass for assists or taking the open shots,” said Courtney.

“He really did a good job with his decision making and he spearheaded our defense…he was fully involved with that.”

The road for the Big Red does not get any easier when they prepare to take on Princeton and Penn on the road next weekend.

The Big Red lost by two points to Princeton last weekend, but also beat Penn in overtime to split the “P” schools at home.

According to guard Jonathan Gray, the Big Red needs to prepare for the tough weekend ahead of them.

“You know, we’re going to try and enjoy this (win) today,” Gray said.

“Starting next week, we have two big games–Penn and Princeton–and we have to really focus on those games, try to do what we can to take one game at a time and hopefully just finish the season off right.”

Box Score

ITHACA, N.Y. -- For the second time this Ivy League season, the Cornell men's basketball hit 16 3-pointers and put six scorers in double figures, shooting 57 percent from the floor overall en route to a 96-76 win over Dartmouth on Saturday evening at Newman Arena. The win improved the Big Red to 7-17 (3-7 Ivy), while the Big Green fell to 5-19 (1-9 Ivy).

Sophomore Errick Peck had a career-high 22 points, classmate Johnathan Gray posted his first career double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) and junior Chris Wroblewski narrowly missed his second of the season (19 points, nine assists) as Cornell took control early and never let its foot off the pedal in a fast-paced effort. Four different players (Wroblewski, Peck, Max Groebe and Drew Ferry) each hit at least three 3-pointers as the team connected on 16-of-29 shots from beyond the arc (.552) as a group. Both Groebe and Ferry had 14 points each, while freshman Jake Matthews scored a career-high 10 points, including eight in the first half.

Dartmouth shot 54 percent from the floor and made 7-of-14 from 3-point range, but couldn't overcome its 17 turnovers or the Big Red's hot shooting. R.J. Griffin led the team with 18 points and five rebounds, while Tyler Melville and Ronnie Dixon each had 11. Jabari Trotter rounded out the Big Green's four double figure scorers with 10 points.

Cornell's 16 3-pointers ties the season mark set on Feb. 4 at Brown and matches the third-highest single game total in school history. Groebe, Ferry and Peck each hit four, with Wroblewski hitting three. Matthews also banked in a trey.

Dartmouth led early 6-2, but Cornell regained the lead for goof on a three-point play by Peck to make it 12-9 five minutes in. Dartmouth knotted the game at 14-14, but a 3-pointer by Wroblewski with 11:30 on the clock put the home team up for good. The first half lead grew to 10 on the third of three consecutive 3-pointers by Ferry to make it 33-23. Matthews banked in his trey off a feed from Wroblewski shortly after to push the advantage to 41-27, but the visitors were able to cut the deficit in half on five quick points by Melville and a basket underneath by Clive Weeden. Wroblewski ended the half in style for the home team, rattling in a jumper and then knocking in a 3-pointer to send the Big Red into the break with a 49-37 advantage.

Cornell had little trouble scoring in the second half, building the lead to as many as 25 after Dartmouth sliced the deficit to nine with 11:43 left on a pair of Weeden free throws. Gray scored five points in three seconds on a three-point play, then a steal and layup on an inbounds pass to ignite the crowd and put the game on ice (85-65) with under eight minutes left. The Big Red sat at 94 points with more than four minutes to play, but substituted liberally down the stretch and held the ball for the last two possessions.

The Big Red will take the treacherous Princeton-Penn road trip starting next Friday, Feb. 24, when it meets the Tigers, who dropped out of first place by percentage points with its loss at Brown on Saturday.

ITHACA, N.Y. — The blustering snow outside wasn’t the only flurry going on in Ithaca on Saturday night as the Cornell Big Red men’s basketball squad equaled a season high with 16 three-pointers to send visiting Dartmouth to a 96-76 defeat in Newman Arena. Errick Peck was one of three players for Cornell (7-17, 3-7 Ivy) to knock down 4-of-6 from long range while leading the Big Red with 22 points.

Dartmouth (5-19, 1-9 Ivy) tried to match Cornell shot for shot, hitting more than half of its shots for just the second time this year by draining 26-of-48 (.542) from the floor. But the Big Green’s accuracy was no match for the barrage of bombs (16-of-29, 55.2 percent) Cornell tossed their way. Sophomore R.J. Griffin led four Dartmouth players in double figures with 18 points while grabbing five rebounds.

No less than six players had at least 10 points for the Big Red with Peck hitting 6-of-12 overall and 6-of-7 from the line for his 22 points. Point guard Chris Wroblewski had a trio of triples on the night among his 7-of-9 from the floor to tally 19 with a game-high nine assists. Both Max Groebe and Drew Ferry came off the bench to chip in 14 points while sinking 4-of-6 from behind the arc, and Jake Matthews and Johnathan Gray each had 10. Gray also snared 11 rebounds for a double-double.

The game began with Dartmouth providing the long-range show, drilling its first two three-point attempts of the game with Griffin and junior Jabari Trotter knocking them down for an early 6-2 lead. Cornell scored 12 of the next 15 points with Matthews and Peck each posting five on two free throws and old-fashioned three-point plays. But when freshman Nick Jackson popped a three, tying the game at 14, Wroblewski answered with the first Big Red trifecta of the game, opening the floodgates.

Wroblewski hit on another trey less than two minutes later, and after the teams traded layups, Jackson came back with another three for the Big Green. That was answered by Wroblewski again, but not before stepping inside the arc. Ferry became the marksman of choice as he sank three straight bombs, interrupted only briefly by a baseline jumper by Dartmouth sophomore Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, as Cornell took its first double-digit lead at 33-23 with 7:02 to go in the first half.

Dartmouth was able to get to the free throw line in an attempt to slow the hot-handed Big Red as freshman Tyler Melville and Trotter each canned a pair, but the hits just kept coming. Groebe notched his first of the night, which was followed by Matthews banking a three from the right wing as the lead ballooned to 14 at 41-27. Melville wouldn’t let the game get away before the break, scoring seven points in the final five minutes, but Wroblewski hit on a 15-footer before raining one last three before the horn sounded to make it 49-37. The 49 points are the most allowed by the Big Green in any half of play this year.

Both teams kept up their sizzling strokes in the second half as Dartmouth connected on seven of its first 10 shots with a pair of three-pointers. The Green failed to make up any ground, however, as Cornell did not miss on any of its first six shots, five outside the arc. Peck nailed four of those five treys, all coming in the first 4:05 of the second stanza, and Ferry added another. Even when the Big Red finally missed a shot, they got the offensive rebound and a putback.

Even though Cornell pumped its lead up to 19 with that putback, it could not completely shake off the Big Green. Junior David Rufful and Trotter each hit three-pointers, sandwiching a Griffin layup, as Dartmouth pulled back to within 11. Free throws by Griffin and senior Clive Weeden cut the deficit back into single digits briefly at 72-63, but Cornell went on the offensive again with a 17-2 run over little more than five minutes. Groebe popped a pair of threes during the outburst, as the Big Red opened up a 24-point advantage, 89-65, with 6:02 to play, putting the game out of reach.

Both Melville and senior Ronnie Dixon had 11 points for Dartmouth, and Trotter added 10 more. The Big Green enjoyed their best night at the line this year, converting 17-of-19 (.895) of their foul shots.

Dartmouth is back on the road next weekend when it heads to New Haven, Conn., to take on the Yale Bulldogs (12-12, 5-5 Ivy) on Friday at 7 p.m. Cornell will have to face the wrath of Princeton (20-5, 8-1 Ivy), which just suffered its first league loss tonight at Brown, in New Jersey on Friday at 7 p.m. as well.

By Albert Liao
Cornell Daily Sun

As freshman guard Jake Matthews jogged back down the court after banking a 3-pointer, he couldn’t help but smile; the way the game was going, it seemed as if Cornell (7-17, 3-7 Ivy League) couldn’t miss a shot all night in its showdown with Dartmouth (5-19, 1-9). After losing to Harvard the previous night, the Cornell men’s basketball team bounced back Saturday night with a tremendous offensive showcase against Dartmouth in a blow out, 96-76.

The Red set season-high records with 96 points and a field-goal percentage of 56.9, while tying its season-high record for 3-pointers with 16. Six players ended the game with points in the double digits, with sophomore forward Errick Peck’s leading at 22.

The game started off with a flourish as sophomore guard Miles Asafo-Adjei tossed up an alley-oop to Peck. The teams were very evenly matched through most of the first half, as a 3 by Dartmouth forward Nick Jackson cut the Red lead to one, 22-21, with 9:02 to play.

After Jackson’s 3, junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski shot a midrange jump-shot that touched every part of the rim before eventually falling in. This seemed to provide the Red with the little spark it needed — Cornell reeled off an 11-2 run in the next few minutes when junior guard Andrew Ferry shot off 3 consecutive 3-pointers, all of which were assisted by Wroblewski.

Wroblewski capped off his great first half with a pull-up 3 on a fast break to make it a 49-37 Cornell lead at half. Wroblewski ended the half with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and seven assists.

Besides his multiple contributions to the team’s stat sheet, Wroblewski’s teammates and coach praised his other impressive aspects as well.

“[His best trait is] his leadership. Having him on the court really calms everybody else down,” said sophomore guard Johnathan Gray. “He’s extremely focused — offensively [and] defensively — he’s a leader on the court, he communicates extremely well [and] he tells everybody where they need to be on the court.”

“[Wroblewski] was tremendous controlling the basketball on the offensive end. He made the right plays tonight, whether it was the pass for an assist or taking the open shot,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “He really did a good job with his decision making and he spearheaded our defense. Our whole plan was to speed those guys up and he was fully involved in … helping us speed them up.”

The second half started with an absolute explosion with the Red shooting 6-of-6 out of the gate — led by Errick Peck’s four 3-pointers. With 14:56 remaining, the lead had expanded to 68-49.

“Fresh legs, I guess, I really don’t know,” Peck said when asked where his stunning shooting display came from. “Once you get in a comfort zone you just keep hoisting them up and they keep going in.”

Dartmouth began to claw back and cut the lead down to nine after two free throws by center Clive Weeden.

After Weeden’s free throws, the Red played some shutdown defense, allowing them to score just once in the next five minutes. During one stretch, Gray grabbed a defensive rebounded, then drove coast-to-coast for a lay-up before being fouled. After hitting his free throw, Gray stole the inbounds pass from Dartmouth and put in another easy lay-in for 2 points.

Gray—a former walk-on 6-foot-3 guard— showed tremendous energy and hustle all game and finished the game with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, including 5 offensive. No one else in the game finished with more than 5 rebounds.

“It was just all hustle,” said Gray. “I had a really tough shooting day — things just weren’t going my way offensively and I really wanted to make an effort on defense and rebounding. I wanted to make a conscious effort to get on the glass and help this team out in any way I could.”

The Red continued its bout of hot shooting — with 6:02 to go the lead had ballooned to 89-65, lifting the game just out of Dartmouth’s reach.

The Red had a chance to break the century mark — they had 96 points with 2:08 remaining — but it was not the team’s ultimate goal.

“I don’t want to be that kind of team,” said Peck. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to me … as long as we get the win, that’s all that matters.”

Despite their incredible offensive display, the Red was a mixed bag defensively.

“We allowed way too much dribble penetration and we didn’t [play help defense] enough, but what we did do — which I was pleased about — was the fact that we got the game going fast,” Courtney said. “They took quick shots and they tried to make plays early … which allows our shooters to get more opportunities. We’ve got to do a better job around the basket. That’s an area of concern, especially heading into [Princeton and Penn] next week.”

The men’s basketball team — which has won only one Ivy League game despite having faced every League opponent at least once — sought to reverse its fortunes with visits to Columbia University and Cornell University. The Big Green (5-19, 1-9 Ivy) came away empty-handed, however, losing both games to extend its losing streak to seven.

Dartmouth outscored Columbia (14-10, 5-5 Ivy) in the second half on Friday night, but it was not enough to overcome a slow first-half start and the Lions held on for a 67-60 victory.

Junior guard Noruwa Agho, the League’s top scorer, led Columbia with a team-high 19 points. The Big Green made him work for his points, however, as Agho shot just nine for 23 from the field and one for six from the free throw line.

Guard Tyler Melville ’14 earned the start in place of Kirk Crecco ’12, who was sick and did not travel with the team. Melville made the most of the opportunity, registering a game-high 20 points in the loss. Captain Ronnie Dixon ’11 returned to the Big Green lineup after missing 12 games due to a broken hand, knocking down six of his nine shots for 14 points.

“I wasn’t sure how [Dixon] was going to be, but he jumped right into it and it seemed like he didn’t miss a beat,” captain Clive Weeden ’11 said. “The team loved having him back because he’s a great guy.”

Dartmouth put its past free throw shooting troubles behind it this weekend, hitting 84.2 percent from the line. The team’s rebounding issues were still apparent, however, as Columbia outrebounded the Big Green, 49-32.

Dartmouth had one of its best offensive outings of the season in the loss to Cornell (7-17, 3-7 Ivy), but the Big Red achieved the highest total in a League game this season, defeating the Big Green 96-76.

Cornell shot 57 percent from the floor and an astonishing 16 for 29 from the three-point arc, spoiling a fine offensive effort by Dartmouth, which shot 54 percent overall. The Big Red’s 96 points were the most the Big Green has yielded in a game since the 98-62 loss at the University of California, Berkeley in December 2008.

“As soon as we did any type of help defense, they found the open man, and they did a tremendous job knocking it down,” head coach Paul Cormier said. “We made some good things happen offensively, but when we were scoring two points they were scoring three.”

R.J. Griffin ’13 led four Big Green scorers in double digits with 18 points, but Cornell countered with four players knocking down at least three three-pointers.

“We knew they were good shooters, but they shot lights out,” forward David Rufful ’12 said.

Averaging 36 percent shooting from three-point range this season, Cornell connected at a 55 percent rate in Saturday’s game.

Dartmouth has now gone over two years without a League road win, but several veteran players stressed that the team will continue to work hard and prepare for the season’s remaining four games.

“The main thing is staying together as a team,” Weeden said. “It’s hard to stay motivated, but we have a great group of guys that come out and work hard every day at practice.”

The Big Green will graduate only two seniors this season, and Rufful said the team’s effort will help Dartmouth’s young players in the long run.

“Your natural inclination is to say, ‘Pack it in,’ but I think it’s important to see the bigger picture,” Rufful said. “We’re trying to build a winning culture, and we need to keep that vision that we’re changing the direction of the program.”

Cormier added that some Big Green players have been forced to play beyond their abilities this season. Rufful, who is 6’4”, often cedes several inches to opposing players at the forward position.

“We have to bring in some bigger bodies and an influx of talent, as well as putting our returning players in a position to improve,” Cormier said. “We’ve made some strides, but we’re not good enough for it to show in the win-loss column.”

Dartmouth now sits last in the League standings — two games behind Cornell and Brown University, who are tied for sixth. The Big Green will travel to play Brown (10-14, 3-7 Ivy) and Yale University next weekend.

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