The Cornell men's basketball team capped its fall semester in thrilling fashion Friday night, downing Lehigh 81-79 in overtime after rallying from a seven-point halftime deficit.
Lehigh (5-3) came in on a five-game winning streak, all by double digits, but could not withstand a spirited comeback by a Cornell (3-4) team playing its final game before a 14-day break.
"This is a big time win, especially going into this break," junior guard Johnathan Gray said. "We really wanted to come out here and play aggressive. The first half we were settling for too many jumpers, but to win the way we did in the second half, down the stretch making clutch free-throws, boxing out, just being tough ... It's huge."
Cornell opened Saturday's game on fire, hitting seven of its first 12 shots -- including four of six 3-pointers -- on its way to an 18-13 lead.
When the Big Red cooled off, Lehigh found its way into the game by way of junior C. J. McCollum, who scored 15 of his game-high 31 points before halftime on an array of long jump shots, dunks and drives to the basket.
With Lehigh trying to pull away Cornell did its best to hang around, however, netting its last four field goals of the half from behind the arc and trailing 39-32 into the locker-room.
Following a 5-0 run to open the second half, both teams virtually traded baskets the rest of regulation and into overtime. Junior Miles Asafo-Adjei made a number of key plays after halftime for the Big Red, including a reverse layup with under two minutes that gave Cornell a four-point lead.
Lehigh then the game into overtime tied at 66 with some timely free-throw shooting before Asafo-Adjei again put his team ahead, 73-70, with a 1-on-3 fast break basket. With both teams over the foul limit, free-throw shooting would be a major factor down the stretch, and Cornell would not disappoint.
Gray, senior Drew Ferry and senior Chris Wroblewski all hit 2-of-2 from the line late in overtime with the game in the balance, including a pair from Ferry with 3.5 seconds remaining and Cornell only up by a point.
Lehigh had a shot to win the game on a half-court heave at the buzzer but it was off the mark.
Ferry led Cornell with 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting from behind the arc, while Gray finished with 14 points and Asafo-Adjei a career-high 13 points.
Cornell will be back in action on Dec. 17 when Albany comes to Newman for a 2 p.m. tip.
ITHACA, N.Y. - After trailing for the majority of regulation, the Big Red men's basketball team fought back to force overtime and then went on to take the 81-79 victory against Lehigh on Saturday at Newman Arena. With the victory, Cornell improves to 3-4 overall, while the Mountain Hawks fall to 6-3 on the season.
Cornell snapped Lehigh's six-game win streak with a suffocating defense that forced 17 Mountain Hawk turnovers, held the visitors to 38 percent shooting overall and 13 percent from beyond the arc. Junior Miles Asafo-Adjei did a fantastic job against Lehigh junior C.J. McCollum, who still was able to score 31 points in the loss. He had three steals in 27 minutes and was a large part of the perimeter defense that limited Lehigh to 3-of-24 from beyond the arc.
Asafo-Adjei made all four of his field goals en route to a career-high 13 points. Senior Drew Ferry had a team-high 20 points to lead four double figure scores, while Johnathan Gray chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds and Josh Figini had 11 points and seven boards. Senior Chris Wroblewski scored eight piints and grabbed five rebounds for Cornell. THe Big Red held a slight 42-41 edge on the backboards and hit 10 3-pointers.
McCollum hit on 8-of-16 shots from the floor and 13-of-15 from the free-throw line. He added five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Holden Greiner chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Gabe Knutson scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Cornell made eight 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, but couldn't survive nine turnovers and an 11-0 deficit at the free throw line to go into halftime trailing by seven. McCollum scored a game-high 15 points and Greiner scored 11 for the visitors, while Ferry led the Big Red with 12 points, all coming on made 3-pointers. Miller had a game-best five boards in just seven minutes of action to pace the Big Red, while Wroblewski notched six points, three assists and three rebounds.
The two teams went back and forth early on at great pace. Cornell took an early six-point lead (13-7) on the third of three Ferry treys in the first 4:25. He ended the first 20 minutes with four treys and a team-best 12 points. The visitors took their first lead midway through the half when Greiner's layup put Lehigh up 21-20. The Big Red took the lead back momentarily on a 3-pointer by Wroblewski to make it 23-22, but that sparked a 16-7 Mountain Hawk run. Lehigh's lead was as large as nine (38-29) with just over a minute to play and survived a fourth Ferry bomb to go into the break up 39-32. Wroblewski rimmed out a 3-pointer and Dwight Tarwater was just strong on the tip-in attempt at the halftime buzzer.
Cornell turned back up the defense after halftime, limiting the Mountain Hawks to 32 percent shooting from the field in the second half and overtime, including 1-of-14 from 3-point range. The Big Red got a layup from Figini to open the half and Ferry hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night on the team's next possession to cut the deficit to two just over two minutes into the second half. Lehigh extended the lead back to seven at 51-44 with 11:30 left before the Big Red started making its move. Asafo-Adjei hit four straight free throws, then blew by a defender on the baseline for a layup to get Cornell within 56-55 with 5:41 to play.
Gray went coast-to-coast for a three-point play with just under five minutes left to give Cornell the lead at 58-56. The teams traded free throws over the next two minutes and went into the final three minutes of regulation tied at 60-60 before Gray drew a foul and hit both shots from the charity stripe, followed by another driving layup by Asafo-Adjei put the home team up four. Mackey hit a pair of free throws, then McCollum hit another pair after Cornell was called ofr a hand-check in the final 20 seconds to knot the game. Cornell had a chance for a final shot, but Gray's layup at the buzzer rimmed out to send the game into overtime.
The teams traded shots to begin the extra session, with Gray getting a putback and McCollum hitting a pull-up jumper. McCollum's free throws then put Lehigh ahead 70-68 with less than two minutes to play. It would be the last lead for the visitors. Ferry came around a screen and hit a 17-foot jumper to tie the score, then after Shonn Miller, who had eight rebounds, blocked a McKnight jumper, Asafo-Adjei banked in a layup and was fouled. He hit the free throw to go up three. After forcing a miss, Figini hit the second of two free throws to put the home team up 74-70 with 54 ticks left on the clock. The Big Red hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch, though its only miss came on its last shot. After McCollum hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with four seconds left to cut the Cornell lead to 80-79, Ferry was fouled on the inbounds. The senior hit the first of two, but the second rimmed out and was rebounded by Knutson. The big man tried to take it himself, hoisting a 3-pointer from just inside halfcourt. The ball fell short and Cornell celebrated its third victory in four games at Newman Arena this season.
The Big Red will take a two week break for final exams, but will resume competition on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. when it meets Albany at Newman Arena.
Lehigh-Colgate Box Score (12/3/11)
Box Score - Recap
ITHACA, N.Y. (AP)—Drew Ferry scored 20 points, including two key free throws with 16 seconds left in overtime, as Cornell snapped Lehigh’s six-game winning streak with an 81-79 nonconference win Saturday night.
Ferry’s free throws gave the Big Red (3-4) a 78-74 lead.
After a 3-pointer by Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, who scored 31 points, brought the Mountain Hawks (6-3) within a point, 80-79, Ferry made 1 of 2 free throws with 3 seconds left for the final margin.
Lehigh led 38-29 in the first half and 55-49 with 8:51 left in regulation. But the Mountain Hawks’ 3-for-24 shooting from 3-point range helped keep Cornell stay close, and a 9-1 run, including five points by Miles Asafo-Adjei, put the Big Red ahead 58-56 with 4:55 to play in regulation.
Johnathan Gray had 14 points and Asafo-Adjei 13 for Cornell.
Holden Greiner had 17 points and Gabe Knutson 16 with 11 rebounds for Lehigh.