Saturday, January 14, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 67, Princeton 59

Below, recaps from Friday night...

ITHACA -- The Cornell men's basketball team got its 2011-12 Ivy League campaign off to the perfect start Friday, defeating defending champion Princeton, 67-59, at Newman Arena thanks to a complete team effort and some suffocating second-half defense.

Friday's win marks the first time a coach Bill Courtney-led squad is above .500 in the Ivy League, after Cornell lost its first five games in the Ancient Eight last season on its way to a 6-8 conference record.

The Big Red (6-9, 1-0 Ivy League) has a chance to make it 2-for-2 on the weekend when Pennsylvania comes to Newman Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip. The Quakers defeated Columbia, 66-64, Friday to move to 8-8 and 1-0 in the Ivy League.

"It's obviously a great feeling," Courtney, now in his second year at the Big Red's helm, said of opening with a league win. "We did a great job of taking care of the basketball, which allowed us to have more opportunities. And the great thing is that we're at home (Saturday). Hopefully we didn't play anybody too many minutes tonight, but we use a lot of guys, so we're expecting everyone to be 100 percent and ready to roll."

Despite shooting just 30.6 percent in the first half, Cornell set the tone early on defense, as the Big Red held a usually efficient Princeton offense to just 38.5 percent shooting and 2-for-11 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes.

Neither team had a lead larger than three points in the first half, as the game saw an incredible 19 lead changes culminating in a 29-28 advantage for the Tigers (9-8, 0-1) at the break.

The second half was a much different story, however, as Cornell led all the way while frustrating Princeton into shooting just 34.4 percent.

The game's decisive run game with just about 12 minutes left, as two free-throws from senior Chris Wroblewski, four straight points by freshman Galal Cancer and a bucket by fellow rookie Shonn Miller, all in quick succession, turned a tie game into a 48-40 Cornell lead.

Despite playing just 11 minutes due to foul trouble, junior forward Eitan Chemerinski delivered two crucial baskets with under four minutes to play and the Big Red defending a slim lead, first beating the shot clock to make it 57-49 before stealing the ball at half-court and going in for an uncontested layup to make it 59-52.

With around 2:30 remaining Princeton began sending Cornell to the foul line in hopes of cutting into its deficit, but despite shooting just 17-for-27 from the line for the game, the Big Red held on for the victory.

Cancer finished with a career-high 17 points for Cornell, which got terrific defensive efforts from fellow rookies Devin Cherry and Miller (12 points, 7 rebounds).

The Big Red missed both of its 3-point attempts in the second half, but shot 52 percent after halftime while winning the rebound battle, 42-41, and committing just six turnovers. Princeton committed 13 turnovers while finishing 6-for-27 from behind the arc (22.2 pct.).

"We struggled the last week or so and to come out with the win and play how we did it feels great," said Wroblewski, who finished with nine points, eight rebounds and four assists. "This is the Ivy League and this is how every game is going to be. Every team is going to have to scratch, claw and fight for everything they earn. Princeton is a very good team and we knew we're a resilient bunch, so even though they were going to make their run we were going to come back and fight."

The Tigers were led by senior guard Douglas Davis with 16 points on 7-for-22 shooting.

Freshmen Lead Men's Hoops To 67-59 Win Over Defending Ivy Champ Princeton
Cornell Athletics

Box Score

Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Freshman Galal Cancer scored 17 points and classmate Shonn Miller notched 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots as Cornell knocked off defending Ivy League champion Princeton on Friday evening at Newman Arena. The Big Red improved to 6-9 (1-0 Ivy), while the Tigers slipped to 9-8 (0-1 Ivy).

Playing in their first conference contest, both Cancer and Miller played key roles on both ends of the floor. Cancer added four assists, two steals, two rebounds and a blocked shot, while Miller had an assist, steal and no turnovers while playing solid defense for long stretches against All-Ivy forward Ian Hummer. The Big Red also got a big 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench from sophomore Dwight Tarwater and nine points, eight rebounds and four assists from Chris Wroblewski. Cornell was able to get out of the gates quickly despite an off-night by leading scorer Drew Ferry, who was held scoreless in 29 minutes of action.

The Big Red shot just 39 percent from the floor, but its defense was even more stifling, holding Princeton to 36 percent shooting and 22 percent from beyond the arc. It also held a 42-41 edge on the backboards, just the second time all year the Big Red won the battle of the boards. Perhaps the most important number of the night was six ... the number of turnovers the Big Red committed.

Douglas Davis scored 16 points to lead the Tigers, though it came on 22 shots. Hummer added 14 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three assists and T.J. Bray had an outstanding night with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists with just one turnover in 39 minutes of action. Princeton had nine blocks as a team and limited the home team to 18 percent 3-point shooting (2-of-11).

The first half was a back-and-forth affair, featuring an astounding 18 lead changes and four ties before the Tigers came out of the firest 20 minutes leading 29-28. Miller had seven points and three rebounds for the Big Red, which connected on just 31 percent of its efforts from the floor.

Neither team led by more than four, with Princeton taking the biggest lead of the contest at 19-15 with seven minutes to play in the first half. After trading points for virtually the entire first 13 minutes of the contest, Bray knocked down a trey to go up four. Miller responded with a pair of quick baskets, the first on a short jumper and the second on a 3-pointer off a feed from Cancer. A big putback by Tarwater in the final 45 seconds put Cornell up 28-27, but Hummer put the Tigers up at the break with a short jumper to make it 29-28. The Big Red had a pair of looks in the final four seconds to go into the break with the edge, but rimmed out both attempts.

The second half saw Cornell set the tone right away. After Eitan Chemerinski stole a pass on Princeton's opening possession, Miller scored on a feed from Wroblewski. A jumper by Tarwater extended the lead to three. Momentum shifts kept coming, but each basket was answered with one by the opponent until Cornell was finally able to string together a run keyed by the rookies, including Devin Cherry. The Big Red went on a 10-2 run over nearly four minutes, with Cancer scoring on a pair of acrobatic shots in the paint, Gray hitting a short jumper on a feed from Cancer, and Cherry causing havoc with one steal and taking a charge on consecutive possessions. That put the home team ahead 50-42.

Princeton would get back as close as four on a Davis 3-pointer with seven minutes to play, but the Big Red continued to answer ever Tiger run. Cancer and Johnathan Gray scored on consecutive possessions by getting to the rim, and when Chemerinski hit an off-balance jumper at the end of the shot clock with 4:15 remaining, the game was all but decided. His steal from Bray at midcourt led to a run-out layup to get Cornell some more breathing room, and despite making just 8-of-17 free throws in the final two and a half minutes, the Big Red was able to hang on for the victory.

Cornell returns to action tomorrow at 7 p.m. when it will play host to Penn, a 66-64 victor at Columbia on Friday night.

bullet Mitch Henderson Postgame Audio
bullet Ian Hummer, T.J. Bray Postgame Audio
bullet Box Score

ITHACA, N.Y. - Despite holding Cornell's leading scorer on the season without a point, the Princeton men's basketball team couldn't turn the effort into a win in the Ivy League opener Friday night in Ithaca, losing 67-59.

Though 13 Ivy League contests still remain in Princeton's season, the Tigers will have to rally early for the first time in any of the current Princeton players' careers. The Tigers have started at least 4-0 in the league in each of the last three years and at least 2-0 in each of the last four seasons.

"I think, plain and simple, we didn't come out to play," junior Ian Hummer said. "Everyone in the Ivy League could beat anyone at any point in time. They showed that tonight."

Douglas Davis matched assistant coach Brian Earl '99 as the only players in Princeton history with four seasons of at least 50 3-pointers, but not enough of Davis's attempts fell for the Tigers against the Red. In a battle of two teams accustomed to hoisting the three, Princeton fired and missed, while the Big Red looked inside.

As a team, Princeton (9-8, 0-1 Ivy) finished 6 of 27 from beyond the arc, while Cornell, led from distance on the year by their season's leading scorer Drew Ferry, put up 11 and made just two. From inside the arc, Cornell hit 44 percent, making 22 of 50.

"I thought we did an excellent job on Ferry. I don't think that was the key to the game," Mitch Henderson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of men's basketball, said. "They made shots when they needed to make them. They got stops and their pressure bothered us. We had turnovers to start the half and to start the game. That is uncharacteristic of us and it has to change."

Rebounding was also a shortcoming for Princeton despite playing a Cornell (6-9, 1-0) team that averaged an eight-rebound disadvantage coming into the night. Instead, the Red moved to 3-0 when outrebounding their foes, doing so 42-41 against the Tigers.

Davis led Princeton with 16 points, two more than Hummer's 14 as the junior forward crept closer to 1,000 for his career and now stands at 956. T.J. Bray also finished in double figures with 12 points, while Brendan Connolly, following his career-high 16 point game against The College of New Jersey, was next with six.

The loss came on a seven-assist night for Bray, tying his career high.

Galal Cancer led all scorers with 17 points as one of two Big Red players in double figures as teammate Shonn Miller joined him with 12 points.

Princeton led 29-28 at the half after a back-and-forth first 20 minutes that saw 18 lead changes and four ties.

Out of a 40-40 tie with 12:42 to go, Cornell went on an 8-0 run and never relinquished its lead. Princeton never got closer than four after Cornell's lead reached that margin. The second half saw Cornell outshoot Princeton 52 percent to 34.4 percent.

"I think it'll bring us back down to earth," Hummer said. "We won a good amount of games in the last month, and I think we were riding a high streak and this kind of put us down."

The Tigers will try to get back in the win column Saturday at Columbia for a 7 p.m. tip. The Lions lost their Ivy opener to Penn Friday night, 66-64.


mark twain said...

hummer makes it sound like cornell was some chump opponent. get rid of that arrogance legacy-boy or your team will be eliminated from the race before the end of february!

Anonymous said...

The only two quotes that I could find from Hummer were:

"I think, plain and simple, we didn't come out to play. Everyone in the Ivy League could beat anyone at any point in time. They showed that tonight."

"I think it'll bring us back down to earth. We won a good amount of games in the last month, and I think we were riding a high streak and this kind of put us down."

I'm not sure where previous poster Mark Twain gets his inference that Hummer thinks "Cornell was some chump opponent." Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Maybe Mr. Samuel Clemens is projecting his own insecurities onto Mr. Hummer.

By the way, both Princeton and Cornell are now effectively eliminated from the Ivy race -- before mid-January, let alone "the end of February." Realistically speaking, only Yale and Penn can give Harvard a run for the title now. Anybody with even a single loss after the first weekend is already practically out of contention.

Anonymous said...

I will agree with the above statement if the Crimson can pull a W out of the John J. Lee in ten days.

If Yale wins, it will get the Dawgs (and everyone else) focused on what might really be and put all sorts of pressure on Harvard to avoid a second league loss.

Anonymous said...

I disagree.

If Princeton is 3-2 when they play their first Ivy home game, they are very much right in the thick of the Ivy race. That would mean they added a couple more road breakthroughs (at least one over either Yale or Penn) to their win at Levien.

No matter what anyone else does, their fate would still be in their own paws with all their league home games remaining.

It won't happen if they play like they did Friday night, but I think they're better than they showed in Ithaca.