Sunday, January 1, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 60, Bucknell 63




Big Red edged out again
Cornell remains winless on the road

Ithaca Journal: CU Men's Basketball

SATURDAY: Bucknell 63, Cornell 60

RECORD: 4-8

NEXT: at Maryland (9-3), 8 p.m. Tuesday

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Cornell men's basketball coach Bill Courtney returned to his alma mater, Bucknell University, on Saturday for the first time as a visiting coach.

And although the 1992 Bucknell graduate and member of the Bison's Athletics Hall of Fame received a warm reception from the crowd of 2,649 in his return, the team he used to star on was far from a gracious host.

Mike Muscala scored all 18 of his points in the second half and led a terrific effort on the boards with 13 rebounds, helping Bucknell rally past Cornell, 63-60, in a New Year's Eve matinee.

Bryan Cohen added 13 points and Bryson Johnson hit a key 3-pointer late en route to a 12-point night as the Bison improved to 9-6.

Junior guard Johnathan Gray scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Big Red, which dropped to 4-8 -- 0-7 away from home -- and suffered its third loss by five points or fewer.

Gray had a chance to send the game to overtime after stealing an inbounds pass with 1.1 seconds left, but his desperation shot bounced off the rim as time expired.

Senior point guard Chris Wroblewski added 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Just before Gray's steal, Wroblewski stole the ball from Johnson along the sideline, brought the ball upcourt and got off a long three, but the ball hit the rim and bounced out of bounds with 1.1 to play.

The Red, winless so far on a rough five-game road trip that ends Tuesday at Maryland, led the entire first half before the Bison -- who had their 18-game home win streak snapped three days earlier by Loyola (Md.) -- righted themselves after the break.

Despite missing its first seven shots and 15 of its first 18, Bucknell never trailed by more than nine points in the first half and went into halftime down 25-20. The Bison erased that lead with its first three shots of the second half.

Sophomore Ryan Hill, who made his first career start, opened the half with a driving layup, and then Muscala followed with a layup and a dunk for his first points of the night. The jam, off a nice feed from Cohen, gave Bucknell its first lead at 26-25.

The lead would change hands four more times before Joe Willman gave Bucknell the lead for good with a put-back at the 10:22 mark. After another Muscala dunk, Steven Kaspar took a charge, which led to another Muscala bucket in the lane. After Cornell missed a pair of free throws, Muscala hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to cap an 8-0 run and give Bucknell a 44-37 lead with 8:12 to play.

The Bison could not expand that lead, however. After being bottled up most of the afternoon, Drew Ferry -- Cornell's leading scorer at 14.6 points per game -- finally shook free and drained a couple of late treys to keep the Red close.

The second of those made it a 56-54 game with 2:20 to play, but Johnson followed with a 3-pointer from the right corner to stretch the lead back to five.

In the final minute, Cornell junior forward Eitan Chemerinski missed an open layup, then committed his fifth foul going for the rebound. Bucknell's Brian Fitzpatrick made one of two free throws at the other end to push the Bison lead to six, 60-54, and the home team hung on from there.

» NOTES: The Bison held a 40-31 edge on the backboards, including 16-7 on the offensive glass. ... Courtney still owns Bucknell records for career free throws made (400) and most 20-point games in a season (16 in 1990-91). He scored 31 points and had six assists and five rebounds against the Big Red as a senior, helping Bucknell to a 98-96 victory in Lewisburg.

Late Shots Falls Short, Men's Hoops Falls At Bucknell
Cornell Athletics

Box Score (PDF)

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- The Cornell men's basketball team rimmed out a pair of 3-point attempts in the final 12 seconds to tie after getting possession back on steals and defending Patriot League champion Bucknell held on for a 63-60 victory on Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. The Big Red lost its fourth straight to fall to 4-8, while the Bison improved to 9-6.

Junior Johnathan Gray scored a career-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and senior Chris Wroblewski chipped in 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds, with both getting last-second looks to knot the back-and-forth game in the final seconds. Senior Drew Ferry added nine points for the Big Red, which limited Bucknell to 38 percent shooting overall and 20 percent from 3-point range.

Timely offensive rebounding by Bucknell and untimely free throw misses by the Big Red helpd the Bison start a new home win streak after having its 18-game one snapped on Wednesday against Loyola (Md.). Reigning Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala had a dominant second half, scoring all 18 of his points after the break. He also grabbed 13 rebounds for the double-double. Bryan Cohen added 13 points and Bryson Johnson scored 11, with Brian Fitzpatrick scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Bison held a 40-31 edge on the backboards, including a 16-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

The New Year's Eve matchup was another near-miss for a Big Red team starving for a road victory, falling to 0-7 away from Newman Arena. Even a crowd with split allegiances, with a strong Cornell showing and a Bucknell group well-aware of Big Red head coach Bill Courtney's presence on the visitors sideline, wasn't enough to push the team to its first road victory.

Bucknell held a five-point lead with 17 seconds to play before Wroblewski drew a foul and hit both free throws, two of his six points in the final 40 seconds, to cut the deficit to 63-60. Gray stole the ball from Johnson and Wroblewski got an open look on the left wing, mirroring the identical shot he made to win the Albany game. This time, Wroblewski's shot rimmed out and went out of bounds with 1.2 seconds to play. Cohen's inbounds pass to midcourt was intercepted by Gray, and his running jumper was on line but hit the back rim as time expired.

It was a 48-46 Bucknell lead with five minutes to play when the Bison were able to take control. After missing a free throw, Bucknell got an offensive rebound and Muscala's putback was good, plus the foul. Muscala's free throw missed, but was rebounded by Cohen. The ensuing offensive possession saw Johnson miss a layup, but his miss was cleaned up by Muscala, who was fouled. The 6-11 center hit both free throws, and instead of a two-point game and Cornell possession, the Big Red trailed by six (52-46) with 4:30 to play.

The Big Red continued to claw, cutting the deficit to two twice, but never being able to come all the way back.

Gray and Cornell's defense pushed the visitors out to a 25-20 lead after 20 minutes. Gray hit 5-of-6 shots from the floor, only missing on a long 3-point attempt at the half that rimmed out, for a game-high 13 points. He also helped a defensive effort that saw Bucknell shoot just 7-of-23 (30 percent) in the first half, including 11 percent form the arc (1-of-9). Cornell also held its own on the backboards, 14-14. For Bucknell, Cohen had 11 points to keep the Bison in the contest. Neither Muscala (Bucknell), nor Wroblewski (Cornell) scored in the first half, taking a combined four shots.

Gray, inserted back into the starting lineup at Stony Brook, scored six early points for the Big Red as the visitors built an 8-4 edge six minutes into the contest. A Miller 3-pointer, shortly after Cancer hit a 15-foot floater at the end of the shot clock, made it 13-6. Cornell continued to control the pace, with the Bison stuck at six points until Fitzpatrick's layup with 5:28 left in the half. That ended a stretch of 7:12 that Cornell held Bucknell without a point and ended a 7-0 Big Red run. Gray hit a big jumper in the final minute to extend a lead to seven (25-18), but a touch foul sent Cohen to the line. His two makes sent the home team into the locker room trailing by just five points (25-20) despite shooting just 30 percent.

The second half featured five lead changes and even more momentum swings.

Cornell will close out its five-game road swing with a visit to Maryland on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. The contest will be televised by ESPN3.com.

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Mike Muscala led Bucknell with a double-double, Bryan Cohen added 13 points and Bryson Johnson knocked down a trio of foul shots in the final 25 seconds to seal the Bison's 63-60 win over Cornell on Saturday.

Muscala, who finished with 18 points and 13 boards, led a pair of second-half Bucknell runs with back-to-back baskets to begin each, bringing the Bison (9-6) back from a halftime deficit.

The Big Red pulled within two, 56-54, with 2:21 remaining, but Johnson preceded his late clutch foul shooting with a 3-pointer at the 1:49 mark to increase the Bison's cushion back to five. That set the stage for his 3-for-4 performance at the charity stripe in the game's final 25 seconds to seal it.

Johnson finished with 12 points for Bucknell.

Johnathan Gray led Cornell (4-8) with 18 points.

Bucknell struggled through a horrendous first 15 minutes of the game, going scoreless for more than seven minutes, while managing just six points.

However, a concerted effort to get the ball inside to junior center Mike Muscala led to easier looks from the outside in the second half as Bucknell rallied for a 63-60 victory over Cornell at Sojka Pavilion.

"It was a gratifying win, but it wasn't a masterpiece. I told the kids 'Picasso didn't paint a masterpiece every time out, sometimes you have to throw stuff on the canvas and get it out on the market,' " Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "We had some shot opportunities in the first half, but we really, really struggled to make shots. The guys kept their composure and they found a way to make plays when it wasn't very pretty."

The Bison (9-6) never led in the first half and struggled through a 3-of-17 performance, including 0-of-7 behind the arc through the first 14:40 of Saturday's game. The Big Red did a good job of keeping the ball from Muscala with full-court pressure and by trapping the Bison's ball screens at the start of their offense.

"One of things you have worried about when you play Bucknell is the ball screen offense," Courtney said. "We wanted to take them out of their half court offense. We did that with our full court pressure and our traps on the ball screens."

Cornell (4-8) opened up a nine-point lead on Bucknell at 15-6 on two foul shots by Josh Figini with 8:15 left in the first half. The Bison finally snapped their scoreless streak on a Brian Fitzpatrick putback with 5:28 left in the first half. Fitzpatrick played well off the bench for Bucknell with season highs in minutes (21) and rebounds (9).

I think that's my role on the team. I feel like a lot of the times they double on Mike, I'm free under the basket for the offensive rebound and the garbage basket," Fitzpatrick, a junior transfer from the University of Pennsylvania, said. "I just have to keep working. When we're not hitting open shots, sometimes the best offense is to go get those loose balls."

Bucknell played better over the final minutes of the first half, shooting 4-of-7, and getting back within five points at halftime.

The second half was the Muscala show as he scored all of his 18 points after halftime. His dunk with 18:16 left in the game gave Bucknell the lead in the game for the first time. Muscalla added a game-high 13 rebounds as well.

"They were really trapping every ball screen and really swarming Mike. They were committing three guys inside to him. We tried different ways to get Mike the ball, but more than anything the guys were a little more composed handling those traps in the second half," Paulsen said. "Mike did a really good job of really having a presence and commanding the ball in the paint."

Cornell was able to stay in the game until the end despite giving up 12 offensive rebounds in the second half and 17 second-chance points to the Bison. The Big Red trailed by six with 4:41 left in the game and with 50 seconds left in the contest, but still had two good chances to send the game into overtime.

Chris Wroblewski scored six points in 23 seconds for the Big Red, getting them back within three points and the Bison turned the ball over twice against the Big Red's pressure. Wroblewski missed a tying 3-pointer off the first turnover with five seconds left in the game.

After the rebound rolled out of bounds, the Bison had a chance to finish off the Big Red by inbounding the ball with 1.1 second left, but another turnover gave Jonathan Gray a chance to tie it with a 3 at the buzzer, but it fell short.

In addition to Muscala, Bryan Cohen added 13 points, 11 of which coming in the first half. Bryson Johnson chipped in with 12 points off the bench.

Gray led the Big Red with 18 points, while Wroblewski added 11 points.

Box Score | Photo Gallery

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Mike Muscala scored all 18 of his points in the second half and led a terrific effort on the boards with 13 rebounds, helping Bucknell rally past Cornell 63-60 on Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. Bryan Cohen added 13 points in addition to his usual strong defense, and Bryson Johnson hit a key 3-pointer late en route to a 12-point night as the Bison improved to 9-6 on the season.

Bucknell Athletics Hall of Famer Bill Courtney '92 returned to Lewisburg for the first time as Cornell's head coach, and his team led for the entire first half before the Bison righted themselves after an ugly start. The Big Red (4-8), who are in the midst of a brutal holiday road trip that has also included close losses to Illinois, Penn State and Stony Brook, received 18 points from Johnathan Gray and 11 from Chris Wroblewski.

Bucknell's victory was its 26th of 2011, a new program record for wins in a calendar year. The previous mark was 25, set in 2005.

Trying to shake off Wednesday's rare home loss to Loyola (Md.), Bucknell struggled early against Cornell's aggressive trapping defense. The Bison missed their first seven shots and 15 of their first 18, and they were stuck on six points for more than seven minutes. Even with that offensive drought, Bucknell held its own defensively and never trailed by more than nine points.

Two free throws by Josh Figini gave Cornell a 15-6 lead, but Brian Fitzpatrick scored inside at the 5:28 mark and Johnson followed with Bucknell's first 3-pointer of the night. Glad to be down just 25-20 after shooting 30.4 percent in the first half, the Bison got going quickly in the second stanza to reclaim the lead.

Sophomore Ryan Hill, who made his first career start, opened the half with a driving layup, and then Muscala followed with a layup and a slam dunk for his first points of the night. The jam, off a nice feed from Cohen, gave Bucknell its first lead at 26-25.

The lead would change hands four more times before Joe Willman gave Bucknell the lead for good with a put-back at the 10:22 mark. After another Muscala dunk, Steven Kaspar took a charge, which led to another Muscala bucket in the lane. After Cornell missed a pair of free throws, Muscala hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to cap an 8-0 run and give Bucknell a 44-37 lead with 8:12 to play.

The Bison could not expand on that seven-point lead, however. Drew Ferry, Cornell's leading scorer at 14.6 points per game and the nation's second-leading 3-point shooter, had been bottled up all night by Cohen, but Ferry managed to shake free for a couple of late treys to keep the Big Red in it. The second of those made it a 56-54 game with 2:20 to play, but Johnson followed with perhaps Bucknell's biggest shot of the night, pump-faking around an airborne defender before hitting a 3-pointer from the right corner to stretch the lead back to five.

The Bison then came up with a stop but turned it back over on a 5-second violation, but then Eitan Chemerinski missed a point-blank layup for Cornell and fouled out going for the rebound. Fitzpatrick made 1 of 2 at the line to make it 60-54 with 50 seconds to play.

Johnson later hit a pair of free throws with 21.2 seconds to put Bucknell ahead 63-58, but the Bison had to survive a few dicey moments at the end. Wroblewski's two free throws pulled Cornell back within three with 16.9 seconds left. With no timeouts left, Johnson got trapped in front of the Cornell bench after receiving the inbounds, and he could not connect his pass up the floor.

Wroblewski came back the other way got a decent look at a long 3-pointer as Cohen lost his footing. The shot drew only iron, however, and went out of bounds back to Bucknell with 1.1 seconds left. Then Gray intercepted the inbounds pass and had another look at a possible tying three, but it also was off the mark and Bucknell escaped with the win.

Bucknell finished at 37.9 percent from the floor, including a 3-for-15 day from the 3-point arc. Muscala's double-double was his seventh of the season and 15th of his career. The junior center went over the 1,000-point mark against Loyola on Wednesday, and now he has moved into 31st place on Bucknell's career scoring list with 1,022 points.

The Bison held Cornell to 37.5 percent shooting and finished with a 40-31 edge on the glass. That included a season-high 16 offensive rebounds, which led to a 17-4 edge in second-chance points.

In addition to Muscala's 13 boards, Fitzpatrick tied his career high with nine rebounds to go along with seven points. Fitzpatrick gave the Bison a big lift with Willman in foul trouble for much of the night.

Now 6-1 at home this season and 90-30 all-time at Sojka Pavilion, the Bison improved to 24-23 all-time against Cornell.

Bucknell was playing on New Year's Eve for just the third time in program history, and for the first time since a 74-70 loss at Florida in 1968.

Bucknell has one more non-conference game to play, at Dartmouth on Tuesday night, before opening Patriot League play at Army next Saturday.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't see the game, but looking at the box score, no other player on our team had more than 1 assist than Wroblewski. In the last 5 games, Ferry has 1 total assist. How is that acceptable for a team trying to play winning basketball?

Anonymous said...

With conference play right around the corner, I've no idea what to think. Please beat Maryland and go into league play on a high note. Everybody just show up and play, at least.

When is Miles coming back?

Anonymous said...

Too many substitutes. Not enough time for the players to get a rhythm unless they come out firing on all cylinders. Once a player is on fire, coach takes him out to cool down. The coach needs to come up with plays for players other than Ferry. J. Gray was hot because he created his own shots not because the coach set anything for him. Coach needs to study teams who are winning....I could go on and on. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if we are close, people only remember that it was a lost and that our record sucks.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Cornell's pressure defense is too taxing on the body to leave your average player in for heavy minutes. Our system requires regular and frequent substitution patterns. Further, most of our guys get into foul trouble requiring subs.

Anonymous said...

Then the defense needs to change. I think our defense has been pretty good this year, despite our interior depth. However, if this causes a loss of rhythm due to frequent substitutions, then what is the benefit of holding a team to X points if you can only score X-5 yourself?

There is a lot of talent on this team. There are about 15 games left, more than half a season. So, the idea that we just have to wait until next season, which some have been throwing around, is wrong. There is time left now.

Assists are a big issue that people brought out about as well. I think that will get better as Cancer learns to pass out more. He's already shown improvement in that category. Assists will also get better when there is an inside presence.

And, as the blog has stated, fouls are a huge part, especially for Eitan. When he is in the game and gets into a flow, he is great. What we've been seeing lately is him get early fouls and infrequent minutes. This has caused his post moves to be a little raw/shaky and as a result get too many travel calls.