Sunday, January 8, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 78, Albright 60

Below, recaps from Saturday's game, above Shonn Miller's tomahawk dunk vs. Albright (Photo by Patrick Shanahan, Cornell Athletics)...

The Cornell men's basketball team won its first game in almost three weeks Saturday, defeating Division III foe Albright College, 78-60, to snap a five-game losing streak and earn its first home victory since Dec. 17.

After a nervy start -- and coming off five narrow defeats on a 15-day holiday road trip, the Big Red (5-9) used a 10-0 run late in the first half and a 11-0 spurt to open the second half to put away the Lions and improve its home record to 5-1.

Despite the 18-point victory, Cornell coach Bill Courtney admitted to being "concerned" about the current state of his team, as the Big Red have just five days to prepare for the start of the Ivy League season.

Cornell opens league play Friday when defending Ivy League champion Princeton comes to town for a 7 p.m. tip.

"It's good to win, but we need to get better," Courtney said. "We're so careless with the basketball, we're immature in a lot of ways because we have a lot of young guys playing. You'd hope that halfway through the season you'd grow up a little bit but we haven't quite reached that point."

A visibly frustrated Courtney saw his squad fall behind 12-7 and then 18-14 early in Saturday's first half, before Cornell ran off 10 straight points to go up 24-18.

After taking a 32-26 advantage into the break, the Big Red opened the second half with an 11-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by senior Chris Wroblewski and a driving layup by freshman Devin Cherry, handing Cornell a 41-26 lead and all the breathing room it would need.

Senior Drew Ferry hit his fourth and final 3-pointer with 2:47 remaining to give Cornell a 25-point lead -- the Big Red's largest of the afternoon -- giving him a game-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Wroblewski chipped in 11 points and six assists, while freshman Shonn Miller put up an impressive line of 10 points, seven rebounds, five blocks and two steals in 26 minutes.

Cornell committed 14 turnovers, and was out-rebounded 45-34 while only making 6-of-12 from the foul line. On the positive side, the Big Red forced 20 turnovers and held Albright to just 1-of-15 shooting from behind the arc.

"We came out in the first half and weren't playing how we can play," Miller said. "In the second half we picked up the intensity and did a better job of that. I think the team is in a pretty good state of mind right now. We're headed in the right direction."

Albright, who dropped to 9-4 with the loss, was led by 6-foot-11 senior center Derek Hall, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Box Score

Box Score (PDF)
Photo Gallery (Photos by Patrick Shanahan)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- After a listless first half, the Cornell men's basketball team pulled away by scoring the first 13 points of the second half and cruised to a 78-60 victory over Division III Albright on Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena. The win snapped a five-game skid for the Big Red, who improved to 5-9. Albright fell to 9-4 with the defeat.

Drew Ferry scored a team-high 16 points and added four rebounds and three steals, while Chris Wroblewski added 11 points and six assists and Shonn Miller notched 10 points, seven rebounds and blocked a career high five shots in the victory. Cornell shot 48 percent from the floor overal land connected on 10-of-22 from 3-point range while assisting on 22 baskets. The Big Red defense also limited the Lions to 34 percent shooting overall, including a 1-of-15 effort from beyond the arc (seven percent).

Derek Hall had 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to lead Albright, while Dave Singleton scored 13 points for the Lions. Albright held a decisivie 45-34 edge on the glass.

Albright scored the game's first four points and led for much of the first 13 minutes of the game behind Hall, who scored six early points, and Kyle Jordan, whose dunk five minutes into the game woke up the Big Red, giving the Lions a five-point lead at 14-9. Cornell got a couple of baskets, including a banked in 3-pointer, from junior Peter McMillan to keep Cornell hanging around, and a coast-to-coast layup by Johnathan Gray squared the game at 14-14 with 12 minutes left on the clock in the first half.

A pair of quick hitters for Albright put the visitors back up four, but a pair of baskets by Dave LaMore and another by Nenad Tomic put the Big Red back into the lead. In all, Cornell posted a 10-0 run over the span of 7:12 that turned a four-point deficit into a six-point lead. All 10 of those points were scored by Cornell freshmen. A Dave Singleton layup with four ticks left on the clock before halftime got Albright back to within six at the break (32-26).

The Big Red defense picked up the offense early in the second half, with Cornell forcing the Lions to miss their first eight shots and turn the ball over four times in the first six minutes of the second half as part of a 13-0 run. A backdoor layup from LaMore to Ferry capped the run, which also featured an acrobatic finish in the lane by Devin Cherry, a 3-pointer by Wroblewski and a great find from Miller to Eitan Chemerinski for a basket. Cornell led 45-26 with 15:17 to play and never led by fewer than 15 the rest of the way, extending the advantage to as many as 25. The Big Red was able to play its freshmen for much of the second half, including have four rookies on the court at the same time for much of the stretch run.

The Big Red will open Ivy League play when defending Ancient Eight champion Princeton visits Newman Arena on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.

Box Score

Facing their first Division I opponent in over 11 years, the Albright College men's basketball team surprised Cornell early and led for the majority of the first half before falling off in a 78-60 loss, Saturday afternoon at the Newman Arena.

Senior Derek Hall turned in a double-double against top-class opposition with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Dave Singleton, the only Lion with Division I experience, had 13 points and eight boards.

It wasn't the start that many were expecting as Albright did not trail until the final six-plus minutes of the first half.

Kyle Jordan (seven points) rejected his Cornell counterparts on the Big Red's first two possessions, and Hall put Albright up 2-0 with a put-back of his own miss before Shane Irwin made it 4-0 with a nice cut to the rim. A pair of Cornell Mickens free throws immediately after the first media timeout put the Lions up 10-7.

After a tough pull-up jumper from Mickens, Jordan had the highlight of the night- blowing past his man and throwing down a thunderous two-hand dunk in traffic. That effort put the Lions up 14-9, and they later led 18-14 when Singleton took his man one-on-one in transition.

Albright finally started to struggle against the more athletic Big Red defenders, going 7:20 without a point before Jordan's transition basket finally broke the streak and made it 24-20 Cornell. The Big Red had taken their first lead of the game with 6:15 left in the half, on center Dave LaMore's lay-up.

Down 27-20 after a Drew Ferry three, Mickens saved a possession by chasing down a loose ball then took his man to the hoop with a tough left-handed play. Singleton ended the half with a little trickery- throwing an inbounds off his defender's back and finishing the easy lay-in.

Cornell pushed its lead into double-digits for the first time on a pair of free throws from Galal Cancer that made it 36-26, early in the second half. Chris Wroblewski's three from the corner stretched the gap to 41-26 as Albright's offensive struggles continued. Hall's free throw, 5:04 into the half, represented Albright's first point of the period.

The Lions continued to show some fight, as Singleton found Hall with a nice wrap-around pass and Jordan picked his defender's pocket, leading to a free throw as Albright cut the deficit to 45-29. Max Groebe answered with a killer three however.

Down by 19, junior Zach Benjamin came up big with consecutive baskets, the second on a trailing put-back, to make it 54-39 Cornell. Ferry put perhaps the final nail in the coffin with a step-back three on the break that made it 52-44 with under eight minutes to play.

Ferry finished with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Wroblewski (11 points) and Shonn Miller (10 points, five blocks) were in double-figures as well.

Albright (9-4, 0-2) will resume Commonwealth Conference play on Wednesday at Messiah, and will look to bring some of the momentum from today's positive performances into a crucial stretch of league games.

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