Columbia hangs on for men's basketball victory
NEW YORK -- Despite holding its opponent to just 39.6 percent shooting and four of 14 from behind the arc, the Cornell men's basketball team couldn't muster up enough offense to notch its second conference victories in three tries this season, falling 61-56 Saturday at Columbia.
The Big Red (6-11, 1-2 Ivy League) trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half before having a shot to tie the game on a 3-pointer by senior point guard Chris Wroblewski with 9 seconds remaining.
But it was not meant to be, as Cornell shot just 33.9 percent from the floor and made only four of 19 3-pointers, a week after shooting a combined 5-for-28 from behind the arc against Princeton and Pennsylvania.
"We're having trouble scoring the basketball right now," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "It's hard to pitch a no-hitter every game. We're playing pretty good defense, and any time you hold a team to 39 percent shooting and force 18 turnovers you give yourself a chance to win, but unfortunately we're just not putting the ball in the basket enough to win right now."
The Big Red was also dominated on the boards Saturday, as the Lions (12-7, 1-2) held a 45-29 advantage in rebounds, 20 of which where hauled in by Mark Cisco, a 6-foot-9 center. The junior also scored a game-high 18 points.
Wroblewski led Cornell with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, although he shot just 3-for-13 and missed on his seven 3-point attempts.
Classmate Drew Ferry and junior Johnathan Gray were the only Big Red players able to find their range against Columbia, combining for 25 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Despite the Big Red's recent struggles shooting the ball, Courtney says he has no plans of adjusting his players' shot selection moving forward, although he recognizes that his team has been more hesitant to pull the trigger from behind the arc because of the current slump.
"We're getting wide-open shots with good shooters," he said. "I'm never going to tell a good shooter to turn down an open shot. We just have to make them."
Cornell trailed 27-22 at halftime, but twice pulled to within a point at around the 7-minute mark of the second half. The Lions answered with a 7-0 run to push their lead back to eight points, and stretched it to 10 with 6:52 remaining.
Cornell battled back one more time in the game's closing minutes, trailing by just two with 15 seconds left after a jumper from by Wroblewski, but his 3-point shot to tie the game three seconds later missed and Columbia sealed the victory from the charity stripe.
Cornell and Columbia will face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Newman Arena, where Courtney hopes his team will be up to return the favor.
"It's just a matter of executing your game plan," he said. "We just didn't play very well (Saturday). We executed what we wanted to do but we just didn't play well. Both teams will be well prepared and the team that plays the best will win the game."Poor Play Leads to Loss Against Lions
Cornell Daily Sun
The Cornell men’s basketball team continued its inconsistent play on the road this Saturday, experiencing its ninth consecutive loss as it fell to the Columbia Lions, 61-56. Despite the Red (6-11, 1-2 Ivy League) playing one of its finest defensive games of the year, Columbia’s (12-7, 1-2) advantage on the boards and the Red’s poor shooting were too much to overcome.
“We had solid defense. We held them to 39 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “[Offensively], we had great opportunities and good open looks. We just need to hit shots. We’re struggling with that right now and we have to continue to take open shots and build up our confidence and just put it in the basket.”
The Lions held the rebounding advantage, 45-29, primarily due to the play of Columbia center Mark Cisco, who scored 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds along with three assists and two blocks. He was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Week due to his performance.
“[Cisco] got 20 rebounds — that’s very impressive,” senior guard and co-captain Chris Wroblewski said. “We just didn’t do a good job [on the boards] as they outrebounded us by , which is unacceptable. It is one of our weaknesses and it’s a point of emphasis wherever we play. It was one of the key factors in the game against Columbia ... but all the credit to Mark Cisco, he had a heck of a game.”
“We must do a better job of blocking out,” Courtney said. “We put a body on him, but he’s such a big strong player, so he kind of just knocked us out of the way. We have to be much more physical with our bigs.”
Along with Cisco’s great play, Columbia’s starting guards, Brian Barbour and Meiko Lyles, performed well, scoring 14 and 15 points, respectively. They frequently penetrated the Cornell defense and created opportunities.
“[Barbour and Lyles] had too much ability to get into the lane and make plays,” Wroblewski said. “We guarded them very well for the first 20 seconds of every shot clock, but then we kind of just collapsed for the last 15 seconds and they [would make] a play. We wore ourselves out playing great defense for 20 seconds, but … we have to finish off possessions a little stronger.”
The other key factor in the loss was the Red’s poor shooting, going 4-of-19 from 3 and shooting just 34 percent from the field. Wroblewski’s unexpected struggles shooting the ball played a role in the defeat, as the senior captain went 0-for-7 from 3.
“I couldn’t tell you, I really don’t know,” Courtney said when asked about Wroblewski’s shooting woes. “He’s getting extra shots up right now … He has just got to work through it. There’s nothing we can do about it, just tell him to take open shots and hopefully they’ll fall, since that’s a big part of what we do.”
After being one of the most feared shooters in the Ivy League and shooting over 43 percent from downtown for the past three seasons, Wroblewski refuses to let the start of this season alter his approach to the game.
“I have played basketball for my entire life and I consider myself a shooter,” Wroblewski said. “I don’t think the last 10 games of my career will make me say all of a sudden I’m not a 3-point shooter; that would be ridiculous.”
The Red’s shooting troubles are not limited to Wroblewski. Stand-out freshmen Galal Cancer (3-for-10 from the field) and Shonn Miller (0-for-4 from the field) also contributed to the problem. However, Courtney applauded the energy they brought to the game and understood the ups and downs all freshmen go through.
“[Both freshmen] have done very well and have really figured it out right now and how hard they have to play every day,” Courtney said. “They might not have a great game every day, but they’re playing hard and giving tremendous effort [and] they’ll continue to improve.”
“I think each game is a great experience with them and they’ll only get better,” Wroblewski agreed. “I know when I was a freshman, each experience gave me more confidence and more comfort on the court and I think those two have such great raw talent and just an unlimited ceiling of potential. I think they’ll just continue to grow and I don’t see them taking a step backwards. They are two of the most talented players on the team and we depend on them a lot and I think they’ll deliver for us.”
However, not everyone struggled offensively in this game. Senior guard and co-captain Drew Ferry hit 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-6 from downtown, while junior guard Johnny Gray played 33 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds with one steal.
Cornell will look to avenge its loss next weekend as it plays Columbia again on Saturday, this time at home in Newman Nation.
Light Blue finally out of own shadow Columbia breaks the habit of dropping close games
At a certain point in the Columbia-Cornell men’s basketball game last Saturday night, I felt a little bit like Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors, the hapless weatherman stuck reliving the same day in the small town of Punxsutawney, Penn., in the classic 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day.”
Sent to Punxsutawney to cover the annual ceremony of the famous groundhog, which supposedly can predict if the winter will give way to an early spring based on whether or not he sees his shadow, Phil cannot escape. No matter what he does, each day when he wakes up, it’s Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney once again.
About seven minutes into the second half on Saturday night, I started wondering if Groundhog Day had come to Columbia.
The Big Red had cut the Lions’ lead to one, 35-34, with just under 13 minutes to play. Full-court pressure had been working, and the Lions worked hard just to get the ball into frontcourt. The offense stalled, and the players looked gassed. It was an exact repeat of the sort of possession that plagued Columbia in its losses to Penn and Princeton. In those two contests, the Light Blue opened up a lead on either side of halftime, only to see its offense come to a standstill and its lead dwindle, disappear, and turn into a deficit.
The problems in both games were concentrated on the offensive end. Full-court pressure by the Quakers and the Tigers forced turnovers and took the Lions out of their rhythm. Often, after struggling to get the ball over midcourt, Columbia players simply looked too tired to make anything happen in their offensive sets, letting the shot clock tick down without making any moves to the basket. This sluggishness on offense led to turnovers, forced shots, and—in the midst of a nearly seven-minute scoring drought in the second half against Princeton—multiple shot-clock violations.
So with a one-point lead and eight seconds on the shot clock, the Light Blue players stood around the three-point line, looking browbeaten by Cornell’s pressure and having created no opportunities in the first three-quarters of the possession. Freshman forward Alex Rosenberg—hardly the team’s best ball handler—dribbled in place just past midcourt, 45 feet from the basket.
“Oh no,” I thought. “Levien Gym had turned into Punxsutawney, Penn. It was Groundhog Day. Again.”
But Rosenberg looked up at the shot clock and drove hard down the left side of the lane. Cornell’s help defense came, and the freshman found junior forward and defensive stalwart John Daniels underneath for a layup—Daniels’ only bucket of the game, and a crucial one. The lead was back up to three. Though the Lions’ offense still struggled to break the press, they found some points in transition and from the free-throw line. The players had broken out of their minor funk and no longer looked like the ill-fated weatherman Phil Connors, waking up at 6 a.m. on the same day, again and again. It was Groundhog Day no more.
Next weekend in Ithaca, the Light Blue will face the Big Red once again. Columbia needs to work on breaking the full-court press more effectively and must hope to continue its strong rebound (the Lions won the battle of the boards 45-29 on Saturday) in order to get back to .500 in the league. What may be most important, though, will be playing as if its second-half offensive funk is a thing of the past. Which, thanks in part to that Rosenberg-to-Daniels basket, it is.
At the end of the movie, Bill Murray’s character gets to spend the night with ’80s/early ’90s hottie Andie MacDowell, and when he wakes up, it’s not Groundhog Day again. I’m not trying to speculate on anyone’s proclivities for mature women with giant hair, but I do know this: Though an early spring may have been the furthest thing from everyone’s mind as they trudged out of Levien Gymnasium through the first snow of the new year on Saturday, the Lions’ second-half play made it clear that they no longer saw their shadows.
Box Score (PDF)
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Cornell men's basketball team couldn't get an offensive rhythm going and Columbia did just enough against a stout Big Red defense to pull out a 61-56 victory on Saturday evening at Levien Gymnasium. Columbia improved to 12-7 (1-2 Ivy), while Cornell slipped to 6-11 (1-2 Ivy) with the loss.
Senior Chris Wroblewski led the Big Red with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Drew Ferry (13 points) and Johnathan Gray (12 points) also reached double figures in scoring. Cornell allowed Columbia to shoot just 39.6 percent from the floor in the loss, including 29 percent from 3-point range (4-of-14), but struggled shooting the ball plenty itself. The Big Red made just 34 percent of its shots overall, including just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc for 21 percent.
Mark Cisco had a dominant night in the post for the Lions with 18 points, 20 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Meiko Lyles added 15 points and Brian Barbour notched 14. Columbia held a decisive 45-29 advantage on the glass and overcame 18 turnovers.
Columbia jumped out to a 6-0 lead, held the Big Red scoreless for the first 5:20 and never trailed, though it would never put the Big Red away. With Cisco dominating the glass, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds (including five offensive boards), the Lions led by as many as seven. Consecutive 3-pointers by Ferry and Gray late in the half got the Big Red within three with under a minute to play in the half, but Lyles got free for a layup to send the home team into the break leading 27-22.
Alex Rosenberg scored right out of the gates to push the Lions back out to a seven-point lead before the Big Red's pressure defense took hold. A driving layup by Ferry and a steal by Wroblewski that led to a runout layup by his senior co-captain got Cornell within 29-26. Columbia was forced to burn a timeout.
Cornell was able to pull within one twice with around 13 minutes to play, both times on free throws by Wroblewski to make it 35-34 and again at 37-36. Columbia answered that challenge by going on a 7-0 run to boost the edge back to eight. The home team would extend the advantage to as many as 10, the last time with six minutes remaining.
Four points in the final 32 seconds by Wroblewski gave the Big Red opportunities to get back in the game, cutting the contest to 58-56 after the senior hit a jumper with 15 seconds. Despite being double teamed, Columbia's Barbour was able to get the inbounds pass and the 90 percent free throw shooter cased in to make it a two possession game. Wroblewski then missed a 3-pointer that would have cut it to one, and the Lions were able to hold on to the win.
The same two teams will go back at it on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.
NEW YORK - Mark Cisco scored 18 points and hauled in 20 rebounds, setting a Levien Gymnasium record, as the Lions held Cornell to 33.9 percent shooting in a 61-56 victory in front of 2,654 fans on Saturday night.
Columbia led 27-22 at halftime after both teams did not shoot well from the field to begin the game. Columbia hit 32.3 percent of its shots in the half and Cornell made just 27.6 percent, including two of ten from three-point range.
The Lions opened up a 10-point lead, 48-38, on two Cisco free throws at the 6:52 mark and still led by 10 when Brian Barbour found Cisco open along the base line for a jumper at the six-minute mark.
Being an Ivy League game, it remained close in the final minutes. Drew Ferry came back on Cornell's next possession to bury a three-pointer to cut the deficit to seven, 50-43.
Four minutes later, with Columbia still up by seven, Ferry drained another triple to make it a 54-50 game with 1:53 left to play.
Cornell kept up its full-court pressure and forced two Columbia turnovers that let the Big Red back into the contest. Two Chris Wroblewski free throws made it a 56-54 game with 32 seconds left and Cornell had to foul to extend the game.
With 21 seconds left, Ferry fouled Cisco after an inbounds pass. Cisco had made six of seven from the line in the game already and calmly sank both foul shots to make it a 58-54 game.
After Wroblewski hit a contested baseline jumper, the Big Red fouled Barbour, who also calmly drained a pair of foul shots to keep Columbia's lead at two possession, 60-56.
Cisco posted his second straight double-double with 18 points and 20 boards and also added three assists and two blocked shots.
"Without Mark, they win that game by 10 points," Barbour said after the game. "He was a beast on the boards."
Barbour finished with 14 points and five assists and Meiko Lyles had a strong game with 15 points and four rebounds.
"Our defensive end was sensational today," head coach Kyle Smith said after the game. "A big key was to get it into Mark. He's relentless on the boards."
Wroblewski's 14 points led Cornell, which also received 13 from Ferry and 12 points off the bench by Johnathan Gray.
Columbia and Cornell will meet again next Saturday, January 28 at 7 p.m. in Ithaca, N.Y.
Mark Cisco's 20 rebounds set a Levien Gymnasium record ... the previous record was 19 rebounds, set by two Brown players two years apart (Phil Brown, 1975 and Rob Crichton, 1977) ... Cisco now has three double-doubles this season ... he scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half ... Alex Rosenberg had nine points for the Lions ... Dean Kowalski had an assist and zero turnovers in 11 minutes off the bench ... Columbia defeated Cornell for the third straight time ... the Lions shot 50 percent from the field in the second half ... Columbia outrebounded Cornell 45-29 and won the battle on the offensive glass, 13-8 ... Pete Mangurian, Columbia's Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Football Coach spoke to the Levien Gym fans at halftime ... the Lions have won six of their last eight home games.