Saturday, March 5, 2011

Game Recap: Brown at Cornell

Below, recaps of Cornell's win and season sweep over Brown on Friday night.

By Brandon Thomas
Ithaca Journal

ITHACA -- Josh Figini wasn't supposed to be the man in position to hit the 3-pointer that would put the Cornell men's basketball team ahead late in Friday's game, but you'd never know it by the result.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore forward drained a 3-pointer with 3:36 left to give the Big Red the lead and scored a career-high nine points to go with a team-high seven rebounds in Cornell's 75-66 victory over Brown -- all in just nine minutes of action.

After Cornell called a timeout down by two, Figini checked for a play that was intended to set up Drew Ferry off a screen -- a play the Big Red has run a few times this season, coach Bill Courtney said.

But Brown defended it well, forcing the Big Red to ad lib. That eventually resulted in Figini's open look from the top of the arc, which he drained for the only lead change of the second half.

"We drew it up for Drew, but the defense collapsed on him," Figini said. "I was wide open, and it's a shot I like to take."

The basket was part of a 13-0 run to end the game.

Errick Peck's third-effort bucket after a rebound and a block, then a Figini layup and free throws gave the Big Red a 73-66 lead into the final minute -- its biggest lead of the game to that point.

The defense clamped down on a suddenly cold Bears offense -- which came into the game ranked second in Ivy League games -- not surrendering any points after Tucker Halpern's free throw with 6:54 left.

Those were Halpern's only point of the half after he scored 17 in opening 20 minutes, including four 3-pointers.

"He was getting way too many open looks," said guard Chris Wroblewski, who led Cornell with 14 points. "We just wanted to crowd him."

Sean McGonagill picked up his offense in the second for Brown, scoring eight of his 10 points after the break. He converted a layup while getting fouled, then hit the free throw to give the Bears a 10-point lead with 12:40 left.

"I don't think there's a chance -- any chance -- we win this game earlier in the season," Courtney said. "We won a game where we didn't play our very best ... and to still come out with a win, it's a testament to the team."

The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half, with Brown leading by as many as seven points 7:03 in.

A 9-0 run put the Big Red ahead, finished off by a Mark Coury lay-in. He scored 10 points of his 12 points in the first half.

"Coury has an inside presence that we really need," Wroblewski said. "He's got a really good hook shot, so we just tell him to go to the hoop a little more."

Both teams shot better than 50 percent from behind the arc in the first half, which ended in the dying seconds with Halpern's fourth 3-pointer, which put Brown up 41-39 at the break.

Notes: Cornell (9-18, 5-8 in Ivy League play) concludes its season Saturday night at home against Yale (15-12, 8-5) in a 7o'clock start ... Princeton won Friday at Dartmouth, 77-55, meaning the Tigers can clinch an Ivy League title with a win Saturday at Harvard. If Harvard wins that game, Princeton would need to win Tuesday at Penn to force a one-game playoff for the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. ... Brown coach Jesse Agel is now 0-6 against Cornell. ... The Big Red used the same starting lineup of Wroblewski, Jake Matthews, Miles Asafo-Adjei, Peck and Figini for the ninth consecutive game.

By Quitin Schwab
Cornell Daily Sun

“I don’t think there’s any chance we would’ve won this game earlier in the season,” said Cornell men’s basketball head coach Bill Courtney, when asked about Red’s 75-66 come-from-behind victory against Brown Friday night. In fact, there were a handful of games from the beginning of the 2010-11 season in which Cornell was neck-and-neck with its opponent for the majority of the contest, only to fall behind by several points and fold down the stretch.

But the February and March version of the Red (9-18, 5-8 Ivy League) is a vastly different team — a team that ended the game against the Bears (11-16, 4-9) on a 29-10 run to overcome a 56-46 deficit eight minutes into the second half.

“Maybe at the beginning of the season we would’ve folded when we fell behind by [10] points,” said senior forward Mark Coury, who tallied his third straight double-digit scoring game with 13 points. “It probably would’ve been one of those stepping stones, but most likely we would’ve lost.”

Following several minutes of back-and-forth runs, the Red finally broke through on a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Josh Figini with 3:36 to play, giving Cornell its first lead of the second half, 67-66. Brown hadn’t scored for three minutes at that point, and wouldn’t get another point for the remainder of the game.

“We got some stops finally,” Courtney said. “[Senior forward and tri-captain Adam Wire’s] defense on [Brown sophomore forward] Tucker Halpern was great in the second half. [Sophomore guard] Johnathan Gray’s defense on [Brown freshman guard] Sean McGonagill was very good as well.”

Halpern scored 17 points in the first half, but managed just one free throw in the second session. Brown missed its last nine field goal attempts of the game, and shot only 31 percent (9-of-29) from the field after halftime.

Figini, who scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in only nine minutes of action, was one of the more productive Red players down the stretch. The starter is used to seeing the floor only to begin halves, but this time was given the opportunity to play in crunch time and cashed in, snatching five rebounds, converting a critical put-back and hitting two free throws in the last four minutes.

“I just try to have as much energy as I can and keep the guys out on the court going,” Figini said. “I was sticking to my game and played as hard as I could, and that’s where most of my points came from.”

Senior guard Max Groebe jumpstarted the comeback, connecting on layups on consecutive possessions midway through the second half to cut the Bears’ lead to six. Groebe was part of a Cornell bench that outscored Brown’s, 46-21. The Red also dominated Brown on the boards, 44-31.

“It seemed like everybody contributed,” said junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski, who led Cornell with 14 points. “[Gray] did a great job of attacking the hoop, Wire did an amazing job getting us second-chance opportunities and Coury was really big as well. We needed some energy because we were kind of in a lull for a while and guys stepped up.”

After Brown built a nine-point lead, 30-21, with seven minutes to play in the first half, Cornell responded with an 11-0 run. A Halpern 3-pointer in the final seconds gave the Bears the advantage going into the locker room, 41-39.

The Red seemed unfazed despite allowing Brown to slowly build a double-digit advantage in the second half, and was able to halt the Bears offense just in time. It is questionable whether Cornell could have completed such a comeback at the beginning of the season.

“We’ve come a long way,” Wroblewski said. “One thing is confidence. The last couple weeks we’ve had some victories, and as a younger team we need to see that happen. We are playing a lot better as a team.”

“What we’ve accomplished after so much adversity — losing 10 games by five points or fewer — is great,” Courtney said. “We could’ve folded up the tent and gone home, but guys stuck with it.”

The Red has won five of its last eight games and for a junior like Wroblewski, a senior night win over Yale would have meaning beyond the team earning its longest win streak of the season.

“This has been a season of adversity,” he said. “To go out on a three-game winning streak — and send the seniors out with a win — would be great.”

Box Score

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Sophomore Josh Figini scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in nine minutes of action, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with under four minutes to play, as Cornell rallied for a 75-66 win over Brown on Friday evening at Newman Arena. The Big Red improved to 9-18 overall (5-8 Ivy), while the Bears fell to 11-16 (4-9 Ivy).

Figini and Max Groebe (nine points, three rebounds and three assists) were part of a Cornell bench effort that outscored the Bears 46-21. The Big Red were outstanding defensively after halftime, limiting Brown to 31 percent shooting (9-of-29) from the floor overall and 15 percent from 3-point range (2-of-13). Chris Wroblewski had 14 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals, while both Drew Ferry (13 points) and Mark Coury (12 points, six rebounds) were also in double figures. Cornell dominated the backboards, outrebounding the Bears 44-31.

Tucker Halpern scored a game-high 18 points, including 17 in the first half. Peter Sullivan (12 points, six rebounds) and Sean McGonagill (10 points, five assists) hit double figures as well for Brown. Andrew McCarthy came off the bench for 14 points and five rebounds.

The Big Red trailed by as many as 10 in the second half (56-46) before Cornell ended the game on a 29-10 run to claim the victory. The Big Red's defense forced the Bears to miss its final nine field goals after a Peter Sullivan three-point play gave the visitors a 65-60 edge with 7:23 left. A pair of driving Groebe layups started the run, and Figini scored seven of his nine points in the final 3:36, including a big offensive putback with 1:40 to play, then was fouled after a rebound with a minute remaining that turned into a pair of free throws. Cornell missed a pair of free throws in the final minute, but a hustle play by Wire, knocking an offensive rebound off a Brown player's leg after a missed charity shot with 42 seconds left all but sealed the win.

The first 10 minutes of the contest featured an all-offense, all-the-time run with Brown taking a 22-21 lead. The Bears pushed the lead out to nine (30-21) with seven minutes remaining, but Coury scored six of the next nine points and Wroblewski nailed a 3-pointer as the home team tied the contest at 30-30. A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Halpern sent the visitors into the break with a two-point lead (41-39).

The Big Red closes out the 2010-11 campaign tomorrow when it faces Yale at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena. Cornell will honor its three seniors (Coury, Adam Wire and Aaron Osgood) with a pregame ceremony.

Basketball can be an easy game when you’re making your shots. When the shots aren’t falling, not so much.

Friday night in Ithaca, NY, the Brown Bears led Cornell for most of the game thanks to some good shooting and solid defense. Unfortunately, the Bears offense went into hibernation in the game’s final 7 minutes producing 0 points in the final 6:54. That allowed the Big Red to pull off the come from behind win 75-66. It’s Cornell’s 10th straight win over the Bears.

It was an entertaining first half of play which saw both teams hold the lead at various times. Tucker Halpern’s three just before half sent the Bears to the locker room up 41-39.

Halpern had a super first half scoring 17 of his game-high 18 points in the first 20 minutes of play.

Brown got off to a good start in the second half extending its lead to 10 with 12:40 to play.

But the Big Red slowly chipped away at the Brown lead and trailed by only two 62-60 when Peter Sullivan (12 pts, 6 assists, 4 reb) got the hoop and the harm to put the bears back up by 5, 65-60 with 7:23 to play.

Unfortunately for the Bears, that would be their last field goal of the night.

Halpern hit 1 of 2 free throws moments later to make it 66-62 Brown with 6:54 left. That free throw would turn out to be Brown’s last point of the game.

Brown had some open looks over the next 4 minutes of play but failed to cash in on any of them. The Bears missed lay-up’s, open three and free throws down the stretch sealing their fate.

"It's not like we didn't have our opportunities," said Brown head coach Jesse Agel. "We had some good looks at open shots but missed lay-up's and wide open three's. We also missed from the free throw line and had some defensive breakdowns because we stopped communicating on defense."

Sophomore big man Andrew McCarthy played well for Brown finishing with 14 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman Sean McGonagill had 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

The loss dropped Brown’s record to (11-16) overall and (4-9) in the Ivy League.

The Bears wrap up their season tonight at Columbia at 7pm.


Ithaca, New York – Leading 66-62, Brown was held scoreless for the last 6:54 of the game as Cornell rallied for a 75-66 Ivy League win over the Bears and complete the season sweep at Newman Arena. The win gives the Big Red a 9-18 record, 5-8 in the Ivy League, while Brown falls to 11-16, 4-9 in Ivy play.

Brown forward Tucker Halpern scored 17 of his game high 18 points in the first half, and scored his only point of the second half on a free throw with 6:54 remaining to give Brown a 66-62 advantage. Cornell took the lead for good, 67-66, on a trey by Josh Figini with 3:31 remaining.

Halpern was dogged by the Big Red in the second half and was able to get off just four shots. His 18 points came on 6 of 16 shooting from the field, and 4 of 9 shooting from behind the three-point arc.

Brown sophomore forward Andrew McCarthy scored 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the field, and pulled down a team high five rebounds. Senior Peter Sullivan scored 12 points, while handing out a career high six assists for the Bears. Freshman Sean McGonagill chipped in with 10 points and handed out five assists.

With 12 points tonight, Sullivan continues his upward climb on the Brown career scoring ladder. Sullivan jumped into 5th place on Brown's all-time scoring list with 1,340 career points, moving past Mike Cingiser, who scored 1,331 points for the Bears from 1959-1962.

Junior Chris Wroblewski led the Big Red with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Drew ferry (13 points) and Mark Coury (12 points) also scored in double figures for Cornell.

Trailing, 21-20, midway through the first half, Brown out-scored the Big Red, 10-0, to pull ahead 30-21, on a trey by Sullivan with 6:59 remaining in the half. Cornell answered immediately with an 11-0 run to pull ahead by a 32-30 margin with 3:56 left.

In a first half that featured 11 lead changes, Brown finished strong to grab a 41-39 advantage at the half, with Halpern hitting a trey at the intermission buzzer. Halpern finished the half with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field, including 4 of 6 from behind the three-point arc.

The Bears started the second half much like they finished the first half. Brown opened up a 10-point advantage, 56-46, on a three-point play by McGonagill.

Brown concludes its 2010-2011 season Saturday evening, traveling to New York City to face Columbia. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

By Sam Rubinroit
Brown Daily Herald

After a season of heart-wrenching losses and upset victories, the men's basketball team played its final games on a grueling road trip, falling to Cornell 75-66 and Columbia 91-74.

The Bears (11-17, 4-10 Ivy) lost to Cornell (10-18, 6-8) Friday in a game emblematic of the rest of the season. Throughout the year, Bruno fell into the same pattern game after game, grabbing an early lead only to let it drift away as the game wore on. True to form, after building a first half advantage over the Big Red, the Bears watched it slip away thanks to a scoreless final 6:54 minutes.

Bruno faced a myriad of challenges when the team faced the Lions (15-13, 6-8) the following night for the final game of the season. After a late-night arrival in Manhattan the night before, the Bears were plagued by a stomach virus that sidelined guards Garrett Leffelman '11 and Matt Sullivan '13. At game time, only eight Bears were able to play, including Tucker Halpern '13, who was forced to fight through the sickness.

Again, the weekend reflected the year — the Bears had faced unexpected setbacks all season.

They lost captain Peter Sullivan '11 to a shoulder injury in the middle of Ivy League play and got a major scare when rising point guard Sean McGonagill '14 had to be rushed to the hospital to receive 20 stitches after a collision in practice.

"We've been through a lot," said co-captain Adrian Williams '11. "We've seen the top of the mountain, and we've been at the lowest troughs of the basketball spectrum, so to speak. It was really an emotional thing for us, but we're just happy that we made it together."

Saturday's game marked the end of the careers of Bruno's four seniors — forwards Peter Sullivan and Chris Taylor '11 and guards Williams and Leffelman.

The four walked off the court for the final time Saturday, but they left their legacies behind. Peter Sullivan's 1,361 points rank fourth all-time on the career points list, and he set a school record last season by starting all 31 games.

As co-captain, Williams provided much-needed guidance and support for the young team — McGonagill refers to him as a "big brother."

He played in 115 career games, more than any player in Brown history.

"Peter (Sullivan) and Adrian (Williams) have been captains for a couple of years now, and they've really matured," said Assistant Coach T.J. Sorrentine. "We've got a great bunch of seniors. That class has been great leaders, and they stepped into that role."

Though the team loses four seniors, the young roster has shown signs of a promising future. In addition to McGonagill,Dockery Walker '14 showed potential with his rim-rattling dunks and inside presence on offense. Halpern's ability to score will make him a major player in future seasons.

"I think they have phenomenal talent coming up behind us, so I'm not worried about them at all," Williams said. "I know they're going to be a really good team, and we have a freshman point guard leading the way. The whole squad is just young and talented, so I look forward to watching them play and progressing in the future."

"I think it's a really bright future," Halpern said. "We're getting some really good recruits in, some pieces that we needed, and I think we have a good core sticking around. I really think we'll have a shot in the next few years to go to the tournament. No question."

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