Monday, February 20, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 57, Princeton 75

(Photo Daily Princetonian)

ITHACA -- The Cornell men's basketball team saw its positive start to the 2011-12 Ivy League campaign halted by a pair of road losses at Pennsylvania and Princeton over the weekend, which dropped the Big Red into the bottom half of the conference standings.

After falling at Penn on Friday, 73-66, the Big Red fell victim to a red-hot Tigers squad in a 75-57 defeat that dropped the team to 10-14 overall, 5-5 in the Ivies. The pair of road losses also dropped Cornell, which had won four of five entering the weekend, to 1-12 away from Newman Arena this season.

Cornell's most recent road woes means the Big Red slips from fourth to fifth in the conference standings, and is danger of falling further with two more road games on the horizon. Cornell will make visits this week to Brown and Yale, both teams Cornell has beaten already this season, on the penultimate weekend of the regular season.

On Friday, Cornell fell victim to another outstanding performance from Penn's Ivy League Player of the Year candidate, Zack Rosen. He scored 11 of his game-high 25 points during a late burst as the Quakers (15-11, 7-2 Ivy League) outlasted the Big Red to sweep the season series. Cornell lost to Penn, 64-52, on Jan. 14.

With the Big Red ahead, 59-55, with 4:33 left, Rosen made a 3-pointer followed by two free throws to give Penn the lead at 60-59. Chris Wroblewski's trey pushed Cornell back on top, then Rosen knocked down two consecutive 3s for a 66-62 advantage with 1:13 remaining.

After two Wroblewski free throws, Penn's Miles Cartwright answered with a 3-pointer before he and Rosen sealed it with two foul shots apiece. Rosen was 5-of-10 from behind the arc as the Quakers were 12-for-22 from 3-point range as a team. Rosen added six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Cartwright chipped in 22 points for Penn, while Big Red senior guard Drew Ferry snapped out of a recent shooting slump to score 17 points for Cornell.

On Saturday, Princeton's T.J. Bray scored 16 points to help the Tigers (15-10, 6-3) avenge a 67-59 loss to the Big Red on Jan. 13, the first night of conference play. Princeton shot 69.2 percent (18-of-26) in the first half and took a 44-32 halftime lead.

Princeton scored the first five points of the second half, and the Big Red never trailed by fewer than 14 points after that. Patrick Saunders added 14 points for Princeton and Ian Hummer 13. Bray was 4-of-6 from 3-point range for the Tigers, while Douglas Davis (11 points) was 3-of-4.

Guards Chris Wroblewski and Galal Cancer scored 10 points apiece to pace Cornell, which committed 19 turnovers and was outrebounded, 28-21. Junior guard Miles Asafo-Adjei saw his first action since mid-December, contributing two assists and a rebound in five minutes. Asafo-Adjei suffered a leg infection while on the road with the Big Red, forcing him to miss 15 games.

After this weekend's road trip, Cornell will wrap up the regular season at home March 2-3 when it hosts Dartmouth and league-leading Harvard.

Box Score (PDF)

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Princeton shot the lights out and Cornell couldnt't keep up as the Tigers claimed a 75-57 victory over the Big Red on Saturday evening at Jadwin Gymnasium. With the win, Princeton improved to 15-10 (6-3 Ivy), while Cornell slipped to 10-14 (5-5 Ivy).

The Tigers shots 56 percent from the floor, including 69 percent in the first 20 minutes, and had four players hit for double figures in the victory. Princeton also connected on 10-of-21 shots from beyond the arc. TJ Bray had an outstanding floor game with a career-high 16 points to go along with five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Patrick Saunders added 14 points, Ian Hummer notched 13 and Douglas Davis had 11.

Cornell's Chris Wroblewski and Galal Cancer each had 10 points to lead the visitors, who turned the ball over 19 times. Wroblewski added five rebounds and three assists. Dominick Scelfo came off the bench to score nine

Cornell seemed to lack energy early and Courtney went right to the bench trailing 10-7, putting in Dave LaMore, Devin Cherry, Dominick Scelfo, Miles Asafo-Adjei and Dwight Tarwater into the contest. That move paid immediate dividends, as the group caused a turnover and Scelfo found Tarwater for a 3-pointer to knot the game heading into the first media timeout after a crisp offensive possession.

An offensive rebound by Asafo-Adjei led to a good find underneath to LaMore for a layup. For the junior guard, it was his first action since mid-December due to injury. Princeton scored two quick easy buckets to force a Big Red timeout down 18-14 that started a 10-0 Tigers run to go up 24-14. Scelfo hit consecutive 3-pointers to get back within four, but Davis nailed a trey as the Tigers built the lead back to 10 (32-22) with seven and a half minutes to play in the half.

Princeton's 9-0 surge turned a seven-point game into a 16-point bulge and was punctuated by a wild dunk in the lane by Ian Hummer as part of a three-point play. Wroblewski went the length of the court to beat the buzzer at the half to send the visitors into the break trailing 44-32. Scelfo and Gray each hit 3-pointers late as Cornell went into the break behind 44-32.

Princeton shot a blistering 69 percent from the floor (18-of-26) and made half of its 3-pointers (5-of-10). The home team also held a dominant 16-6 edge on the glass. Scelfo's three 3-pointers gave him a game-high nine points at the break, while Wroblewski chipped in six. Bray and Davis each had eight points to lead the Tigers.

The second half was no different, as the Big Red could never make the run to get badck into the game and the home team continued to bomb away. Princeton would run the lead up to as many as 23 (73-50) with just over four minutes remaining and cruised to the victory.

Cornell will complete its road schedule next weekend when it visits Brown and Yale. The Big Red and the Bears will square off on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., then heads to face the Bulldogs on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

The Cornell men’s basketball team continued its less than stellar play on the road, losing both games this weekend to rivals Penn (15-11, 7-2 Ivy League) and Princeton (15-10, 6-3). Cornell (10-14, 5-5) had a chance to move to as high as second in the Ivy League this weekend, but the two losses moved the team to fifth, out of contention for the Ivy League championship. The Red lost a close game in the final minutes to Penn, 73-66, before getting blown out by Princeton, 75-57.

Against Penn, Cornell was hampered by turnovers in the first half — turning it over 10 times in the half — but kept pace with the Quakers. No team led by more than seven in the half and Penn led by six, 35-29, entering halftime.

“We were a little nervous controlling the ball and we weren’t making smart plays or smart passes at the beginning of the game,” said senior guard and co-captain Drew Ferry. “It hurt us a little bit at the beginning, but we got it more under control as the game progressed and we did a better job of taking care of it.”

Cornell came out of the intermission with much more energy, going on a 20-8 run in the first eight minutes to take a six-point lead, 49-43. All five Cornell starters scored during this stretch.

“I think we executed a lot better offensively [during that stretch],” Ferry said. “We made some shots and we were able to guard the ball — when you execute offensively and defensively, that’s how you get on a run.”

After this run, Penn guard Zack Rosen took over the game, scoring or assisting on 23 straight points, including three from downtown. He finished the game with 25 points, six assists, five rebounds and just one turnover.

“[Rosen] had a great game; he made some really tough shots,” said junior forward Eitan Chemerinski. “We were just trying to do the best we could to keep the ball out of his hands and just try to keep him from making plays, but he just made some big plays down the stretch.”

Both captains, Ferry and senior guard Chris Wroblewski, had stronger games compared to the first time the two teams competed; however, neither could upstage the show Rosen gave at the end. Ferry scored 17 points, including four 3-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds, while Wroblewksi finished with 14 points, three assists and three rebounds.

The Red was in the game until the very end against Penn; however, against Princeton, Cornell started with very low energy and was unable to mount a comeback — trailing by as many as 23 points before falling, 75-57. Head coach Bill Courtney said he was displeased by the effort his team put forward. He subbed out all five starters at four minutes into the game.

“We definitely didn’t come out effectively or with the intensity that we needed to,” Ferry said. “We gave them a lot of open shots and to their credit, they made their shots.”

After tying the game 14-14 on a layup by freshman guard Devin Cherry, the Tigers went on a 24-8 run in the next six minutes. The Tigers did most of their damage from behind the arc, as they hit five 3-pointers during the run. Wroblewski ended the half by going coast-to-coast to score on a buzzer-beating layup, cutting the lead to 44-32 heading into the break, where Princeton shot 69 percent from the field.

“For us, our defensive intensity and execution was not where it was the first time we played them,” Ferry said. “We let them run their offense and get comfortable at the beginning of the game and once they got into a rhythm and started making shots, there really wasn’t a whole lot we could do to stop that.”

The second half was more of the same, as the Tigers never led by fewer than 13 points. Turnovers played a factor in the Red’s demise, as Cornell turned the ball over 13 times in the second half alone. The silver lining in this game was the appearance of sophomore guard Dominick Scelfo and freshman guard Galal Cancer on the court. This was Scelfo’s first game playing major minutes and he made the most of this opportunity, scoring nine points in the first half. Cancer, who was shooting just 21 percent from the field in his last five games, provided a solid performance, scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field.

“I think [Scelfo and Cancer] are really good players and when given opportunities, they play really well,” Chemerinski said. “We’re just hoping that they’ll continue playing well [when given the chance].”

After this disappointing weekend, the Red knows what it needs to focus on in practice, according to Chemerinski.

“We have to continue to practice hard and continue to put an emphasis on our defense,” he said. “We have to keep working hard, keep practicing hard and hopefully we’ll get better results for the upcoming weekends.”

bullet Postgame audio with Mitch Henderson, Patrick Saunders, Ian Hummer and T.J. Bray
bullet Box Score

PRINCETON - Making it four straight Ivy League wins, the Princeton men's basketball team rolled past Cornell 75-57 Saturday night in Jadwin Gym.

The Tigers (15-10, 6-3) used a 10-0 run to break a 14-all tie with 12:35 to go in the first half and never looked back. Princeton led by as many as 23 points in recording their first four-game win streak of the season.

T.J. Bray led Princeton with a career-high 16 points, nailing four 3-pointers while also dishing out five assists. He was one of four Tigers in double-figures along with Patrick Saunders and his season-high 14 points, Ian Hummer with 13 and Douglas Davis with 11.

Hummer moved up three spots to 22nd place on the Princeton career scoring list, now with 1,068 points. Davis also moved up on the Princeton career list, passing current Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson '83 (1,441) to stand in fourth place with 1,443 points.

Cornell (10-14, 5-5) had just two players in double-figure scoring as Chris Wroblewski and Galal Cancer had 10 points apiece.

PRINCETON — Princeton is doing its part to stay alive in the Ivy League race.

The Tigers ran their winning streak to four in a row with a 75-57 victory over Cornell on Saturday night. The win completed a second straight weekend sweep of Ivy opponents for the Tigers, who improved to 15-10 overall and 6-3 in league play.

Princeton still needs some help if it hopes to get to the top of the Ivy race. But the Tigers know all they can do at this point is win and hope for the best. The win avenged a 67-59 loss the Tigers suffered to the Big Red in Ithaca, N.Y., last month.

T.J. Bray scored a career-high 16 points to go along with five assists, while three other Tigers also scored in double figures. Patrick Saunders had 14 points, Ian Hummer 13 and Douglas Davis 11.

“I thought we brought a lot of energy tonight right from the tip,” Bray said. “We tried to keep it going all night. We tailed off a little there at the end of the half. We knew if we came out in the second and really put our foot to the medal we’d be fine.”

Princeton shot a sizzling 69 percent from the field in the opening half, making 18 of 26 shots overall and five of 10 from 3-point range to jump out to a 44-32 lead at the break. Bray and Davis had eight points each, while Hummer and Saunders each scored seven in the opening half.

“I was really happy with the start of the game,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “I thought the guys were very focused on what was going to be needed and I feel like the guys understood that this was a game up in Ithaca where, all the credit goes to Cornell, but I did not feel good about how we played.”

Princeton opened the second half on a 5-0 run to extend the lead to 49-32. Cornell crept within 62-48 before a Saunders three and a 3 by Bray made it 68-48 with just less than eight minutes left. The lead grew as large as 73-50.

The Tigers still need to win out and hope for losses from Harvard, Yale and Penn ahead of them in the standings.

“I think we are playing the kind of basketball now that we know we can make a run to what we have been going after the whole season, which is the Ivy League championship,” said Hummer, who had the play of the game with a monster dunk off a pass from Saunders. “We know we put ourselves in a hole after the Cornell game right off the bat. I think the kind of basketball we have been playing, if we can keep playing like that and rely on a couple of other teams to do their things we have a good chance.”

The Tigers opened the game by making their first five shots from the field on their first five possessions to jump out to a 10-5 lead. Turnovers on their next two possessions allowed the Big Red to go on a 7-0 run to take a 12-10 lead. But Princeton then went on an 8-2 run to grab an 18-14 lead, with a couple of Denton Koon baskets off perfect feeds from Bray highlighting the run.

Bray had a great stretch in the first half, connecting with Koon for a pair of pretty assists and then knocking down a 3-point shot to help the Tigers erase a 12-10 deficit and turn it into a 21-14 lead.

In the game’s first 10 minutes the Tigers made 11 of 14 shots to jump out to a 24-14 lead.

The first half was near perfect for the Tigers, who shot 69 percent and outrebounded the Big Red, 16-6.

“As these guys know, I don’t give them much of a break,” Henderson said. “I’m fairly greedy and we had eight turnovers. But we were executing so nicely on the offensive end. We see ourselves as a team that can take care of the ball a little bit better. When we took care of the ball, I thought it was very fun to watch. This was a really good performance by an unselfish group.”

Princeton had 20 assists on its 29 baskets, showing how unselfish it was.

Now the Tigers just need to keep taking care of their own business and hope other Ivy teams give them some help.

In its most dominant Ivy League performance this season, the men’s basketball team ripped through Cornell’s defense on Saturday night for a 75-57 win. With four straight wins, the Tigers (15-10 overall, 6-3 Ivy League) have come alive in their quest for Ivy League stardom, although Harvard remains the runaway favorite for the crown. The Big Red (10-14, 5-5) slipped to .500 after the blowout loss. The dismantling of Cornell came a day after Princeton dropped Columbia (14-12, 3-7) in front of a national audience on ESPNU cameras.

Sophomore guard T.J. Bray and senior forward Patrick Saunders led the Tigers with 16 and 14 points apiece against the Big Red. Bray had a scorching outing from the field, going 4-6 on three-point shots, and added five assists, four rebounds and three steals along the way. Saunders demonstrated his ability to shoot from outside but also scored with a couple of nice hook shots in and around the paint.

Princeton raced off into the lead after breaking open a tight game early in the first period. Down 10-12, the Tigers combined sharp offense and intense defense to embark on a 28-10 run, capped by possibly the greatest Princeton dunk in recent memory by junior forward Ian Hummer.

Moving the ball quickly, Saunders delivered the ball to Hummer on the three-point line. What followed will make Cornell guard Johnathan Gray think twice about his basketball team’s next visit to Jadwin Gymnasium.

With empty floor beckoning, Hummer drove into the paint before leaping magnificently into the air and ramming the basketball through the hoop with his left hand. Gray jumped up to block in vain as Hummer powered over his defender to slam home and earn a trip to the charity stripe. His three-point play gave Princeton a 16-point lead and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“That was a big dunk,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said. “I don’t know — it seemed like he jumped, and then he jumped again.”

After taking a 44-32 lead into the break, the Tigers cooled down somewhat but still outscored the Big Red by six during the second period. Four Princeton starters scored in double digits, with senior guard Doug Davis and Hummer joining Saunders and Bray in taking the plaudits.

“I thought we just brought a lot of energy tonight,” Bray said. “Right from the tip, we were up, and we just kept it going all night. We tried not to hit a wall — kind of toward the end of the first half we did, but we knew if we came out in the second half and really put our foot to the pedal, we would be fine.”

Although the Big Red shot the ball decently in the first half, Cornell conceded far too many preventable turnovers. On several occasions, a guard would drive toward the basket and get called for traveling. The Big Red defense didn’t show up, and the players lacked the same desire to get the ball.

The match was unusually fast-paced as the crowd witnessed end-to-end action. Princeton took only eight free throws, while Cornell attempted 11. While the referees were quick to call players for minor violations such as traveling, they didn’t have to deal with much excessively physical play. The teams committed 12 fouls apiece, while there were at least 35 committed overall in each of the Tigers’ last three home games.

Apart from the strong overall team performance, Henderson was extremely pleased with Bray’s showing on the night. In addition to a career-high 16 points, Bray’s passing ability, his disciplined ball control and connection with freshman forward Denton Koon were delightful to watch.

“He’s been very consistent,” Henderson said, “and I think this is indicative of kind of the way we see him playing for us in the future.”

“For a guy that played a few minutes last year,” Hummer said of Bray, “to kind of step up to the starting role as point guard running the team and playing 30-32 minutes a game — it’s tough for anyone. And I think over the course of the season, he’s really stepped up.”

The opening minutes on Friday against Columbia contrasted with what Princeton showed throughout the game against the Big Red. Lions forward Blaise Staub drove to the basket for a layup on the very first possession of the game, which foretold Princeton’s lack of defensive intensity for much of the first half. Despite five lead changes in the opening frame, Columbia built a 27-22 lead with under two minutes left in the first after a layup by guard Meiko Lyles.

However, Davis sunk two free throws to bring the game within one possession. With six seconds left in the period, junior forward Mack Darrow sunk a basket from NBA range, tying the game up at 27-27 going into the half.

The Lions took a three-point lead about five minutes into the second half, but the Tigers tied it up at 39-39. Once again, Darrow found himself with another open three-point look and hit nothing but net, sparking a 12-3 Princeton run over the next four minutes. The Tigers shot 61 percent from the floor and 91 percent from the free-throw line in the second half. Darrow shined, shooting 4-6 from the field and a perfect 9-9 from the charity stripe on the way to his 19 points and eight rebounds.

“It’s no surprise to me, because he’s been [making big shots] for a while,” said senior guard Doug Davis, who finished with a team-high 20 points and passed assistant coach Brian Earl ’99 for fifth place on Princeton’s all-time scoring list. “That’s what he does, make big shots.”

“Mack is our most efficient player, by far,” Henderson said. “If you look at the numbers, and I’m a big numbers guy — he’s extremely efficient, and he makes everybody better.”

Princeton continues to play catch-up to Harvard, which tallied its 27th consecutive home win after beating Yale later that evening in Cambridge, Mass. Penn stays closest to the Crimson in second place after a successful weekend. Following the away trip to Harvard and Dartmouth next week, the Tigers come back to Jadwin Gymnasium for their last three games of the season.

Riding a four-game winning streak and playing its best basketball of the season, the Princeton University men’s basketball team appears to be peaking at the right time.

In any other league in the country that would mean the Tigers were playing their best as league tournament time draws closer. But the Ivy League isn’t like every other league in the country. There is no post-season tournament and Princeton still needs plenty of help to win a league title.

”We’ve talked about a tournament as coaches,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “We can worry about one thing and that is creating your own path. That is what we have focused on and where we are right now. We wish we were in a different spot but there is nobody losing any sleep over what we have done. We just have to keep doing what we do.”

A weekend sweep of Columbia and Cornell helped the Tigers improve to 15-10 overall and 6-3 in the Ivy League. The Tigers still trail league-leading Harvard (9-1), Penn (7-2) and Yale (7-3) in the Ivy standings. The Tigers will play each of those teams once over their final five games, but will need some outside help to have a shot at the top spot.

”I think we are playing the kind of basketball now that we know we can make a run to what we have been going after the whole season, which is the Ivy League championship,” said junior Ian Hummer, who had 13 points in Saturday’s 75-57 win over Cornell. “We know we put ourselves in a hole after the Cornell game right off the bat. I think the kind of basketball we have been playing, if we can keep playing like that and rely on a couple of other teams to do their things, we have a good chance.”
Princeton lost its first Ivy League game of the season, 67-59, at Cornell last month. The loss put the Tigers in a hole but they have bounced back and are still in the hunt for an Ivy title.

”I just think we looked like a completely different bunch,” said Henderson, whose team will play at Harvard on Friday night. “I’ve watched the tape of that Cornell game probably five or 10 times now and I just don’t recognize us out there. We were a little bit more of who we are tonight.”

T.J. Bray led the Tigers with 16 points, while Patrick Saunders had 14 and Douglas Davis 11 in a balanced offensive effort. Bray was solid throughout, adding five assists and four rebounds as well.

”TJ was 6 for 9 with just one turnover and five assists,” Henderson said. “He has been very consistent and I think this is indicative of the way we see him playing for us in the future.”

Bray had one stretch where he knocked down a couple of three-point shots and dished a pair of nice assists to Denton Koon.

”I was just taking what was there tonight,” Bray said. “Denton did a great job cutting and I hit him on a nice backdoor. He did a great job of cutting and my shot was feeling good.

”It’s just the confidence of my teammates and coaches. They really trust me to do a lot. I just do what I can.”

Bray’s impressive play has not been lost on his teammates, who see him getting better every game.

”For a guy who played just a few minutes last year to step up to being the starting point guard and playing over 30 minutes a game is tough for anyone,” Hummer said. “Over the course of the season he has really stepped up. He’s been able to incorporate a lot of assists into his game and a lot of rebounds and he is just an overall solid player that doesn’t really turn the ball over.”

The highlight of Saturday’s game was a monster dunk by Hummer off a pass from Saunders. It was a highlight reel moment that brought the Tigers and their fans to their feet.

”I’ve never been up there in my life,” Henderson said of the dunk. “That was a big dunk. It seemed like he jumped and then he jumped again. It was fun. I enjoyed watching his teammates being really excited for him. That was one of my favorite moments. It got everybody up. It was hard not to smile for him.”

Added Hummer: “That was the best dunk I have ever had in a game. And to dunk it on somebody; you see it all the time and to have one under your belt is pretty nice.”

Hummer’s teammates relished the moment as well.

”I made a look to the baseball team in the stands and I think their reaction said it all,” Bray said. “It was pretty exciting.”

Added Saunders: “My jaw dropped and I couldn’t do anything but laugh. I was just amazed he was up that high.”


Anonymous said...

DAMN. Son got posterized!

q'nis said...

J Gray really getting thrown under the bus in the last two pictures.

Anonymous said...

In today's online issue of the Daily Princetonian, there is a multi-image series of high speed photos of Hummer's dunk over Johnathan. Ignoring the fact that Cornell comes out on the short end of the sequence, it's magnificent sports photography.

Anonymous said...

Kind of a deflating weekend. Oh well, hopefully the underclassmen are improving and next year we'll start moving up the ladder. 1-12 away record pretty much says it all.

Anonymous said...

Well, there goes any real chance at postseason play.

Anonymous said...

CBB- Is the picture of Johnny getting posterized an effort on your part to give a little to those who call you a shameless homer?

I like homers.

Go Big Red.

Anonymous said...

CBB: I'm sure you've seen this posting:

Sounds very promising for Foote. If Wittman ever wanted a second look, now's the time.