Monday, February 6, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 68, Dartmouth 59

Box Score

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HANOVER, N.H. -- After 10 games of near-misses on the road, the Cornell men's basketball team turned the tide with its defense and picked up its first victory away from Ithaca this season, knocking off Dartmouth 68-59. The Big Red improved to 8-12 (3-3 Ivy), while the Big Green fell to 4-18 (0-6 Ivy).

Cornell limited the Big Green to 35 percent shooting overall and 18 percent from 3-point range and outrebounded Dartmouth 40-35 while forcing 15 turnovers. The Big Red scored the first 10 points of the game and never trailed and never let the home team tie the score in going wire-to-wire for the win.

Freshman Shonn Miller had 15 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double, while Chris Wroblewski notched 14 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished three assists and collected three steals. Johnathan Gray was the third double figure scorer with 13 points. Dwight Tarwater notched six points and grabbed a career high nine rebounds, while Eitan Chemerinski scored eight.

Dartmouth's Kirk Crecco had 15 points to lead the Big Green, while Gabas Maldunas notched 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Jvonte Brooks scored nine points and grabbed eight boards in the loss.

Cornell set the frenetic tone, scoring the game's first 10 points just 1:22 in and didn't allow the Big Green to get on the board until Jabari Trotter's layup with 16:36 left in the half. Dartmouth was able to cut into the lead, drawing within two (17-15) on a free throw by Maldunas, but the Big Red answered immediately with a 12-2 run to extend it back to 12 after Miller's dunk made it 29-17 with just over four minutes left in the half. A R.J. Griffin trey in the final minute sent the home team into halftime trailing 33-26.

The Big Green cut the deficit to four two times in the first 12 minutes, only to have the Big Red answer each time. Four straight points by Brooks late got the home team back within two (59-57) with less than two minutes to play, but Cornell sealed the game away at the free throw line by making 9-of-10 free throws in the last 1:27, with both Wroblewski and Gray hitting four each.

Cornell returns to action on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. when Yale visits Newman Arena.

CU Men's Basketball

Saturday's result: Cornell 68, Dartmouth 59

Friday's result: Harvard 71, Cornell 60

Record: 8-12 overall, 3-3 Ivy League

Next games: Friday vs. Yale, Saturday vs. Brown

Where: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca

ITHACA -- Cornell men's basketball coach Bill Courtney is under no illusions when it comes to his team these days.

Coming off a weekend road split that included a 71-60 loss at No. 23 Harvard and a 68-59 victory at last-place Dartmouth -- Cornell's first win on the road in 11 tries this season -- the Big Red approaches the midway point of its conference schedule with a record of 3-3. Not great, but certainly an improvement from a year ago, when Cornell lost its first five Ivy League games on its way to a 1-6 conference start through the first week of February.

"Better than 0-5," Courtney said. "Obviously we would like to be 4-2 or 5-1 at this point, and you look back at the Columbia game away and Princeton at home and maybe we could have gotten one, but 3-3 is a lot better than 0-5. We're playing a lot better than we were at this point last year, and hopefully we can take advantage of having two home games this weekend."

Following the split, Cornell (8-12) welcomes Yale and Brown for a home doubleheader this weekend, two games Courtney feels his team has a good shot of winning before it hits the road for four straight.

Crimson cruises

In Cambridge, where Harvard (20-2, 6-0) entered Friday's game with the nation's fourth-longest home win streak at 23 games, Cornell's chances of winning were always slim but got even slimmer after the Crimson set off on an 8-2 run early in the first half to go ahead, 21-13.

After trailing 38-24 at halftime, Cornell showed some fight coming out of the break, scoring the first five points of the second half on a 3-pointer by senior Drew Ferry and a transition layup by junior Johnathan Gray to cut the deficit to nine. But despite forcing another Harvard turnover on the next possession, the Big Red could not get any closer, as Harvard responded with a defensive stop and a dunk at the other end to make it 40-29.

The Big Red would not get back to within single digits the rest of the way, and despite a late run that made the final score respectable, the game was never truly in doubt for the Crimson.

"You have to be hitting on all cylinders to beat a team like that," Courtney said. "We played hard, but we didn't play particularly well. We probably played good enough defense against them, but when we stopped them, we just couldn't score on the other end. You have to capitalize on your opportunities to win that kind of game."

Holding off Dartmouth

Saturday would see Courtney's squad bounce back for its first win of the season away from East Hill as the Big Red jumped on Dartmouth (4-18, 0-6) early and led wire-to-wire.

Cornell scored the first 10 points of the game in just 1:22, and despite the Big Green coming back to within two points at 17-15, the Big Red responded with a 12-2 run capped by freshman Shonn Miller's dunk to go back up 29-17 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half.

After trailing 33-26 at the break, Dartmouth twice cut Cornell's lead to four in the first 12 minutes of the second half, eventually pulling within two at 59-57 with less than two minutes to play. The Big Red simply would not be denied, however, and made 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the last 1:27, including four apiece from Gray and senior Chris Wroblewski, to seal the victory.

"I'm proud of the way we came back on Saturday," Courtney said. "We played with a lot of energy, and were able to get into our full-court pressure right away and capitalize off it. Getting off to that good start and being able to play from ahead was huge."

After tallying nine points and three assists on Friday, Wroblewski capped what Courtney called a "terrific" weekend with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals against Dartmouth. Gray was the only Cornell player to score in double figures on both nights with 14 against the Crimson and 13 against the Big Green.

Miller also had a productive weekend, contributing nine points, eight rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals on Friday before leading the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds the following night for his second career double-double.

Laurent Rivard had a game-high 16 points to lead the Crimson on Friday; Kirk Crecco was Dartmouth's leading scorer on Saturday with 15 points.

The Cornell men’s basketball team returned home to Ithaca early Sunday morning with a bittersweet feeling, earning its first road victory of the season against Dartmouth, but failing to knock down No. 23 Harvard, who is currently sitting atop the Ivy League standings. Cornell (8-12, 3-3 Ivy League) lost, 71-60, to Harvard (20-2, 6-0) on Friday, before beating Dartmouth (4-18, 0-6), 68-59, the following night to remain at .500 in the Ivy League.

The Red starting slow has been a major issue this year and the matchup against Harvard was no different. Cornell came out flat, as the Crimson held a 14-point lead going into halftime, 38-24.

“Against Harvard, we got pushed around a little bit and weren’t as tough as we needed to be [in the first half],” said senior guard and co-captain Drew Ferry. “We got it together a bit in the second half and put in a little more energy and a lot more toughness.”

Harvard never took the foot off the pedal, as the team continued to dominate the Red, leading by 22 at one point. Cornell ended the game on a 10-2 run, even though the game was out of reach, to make the final score look closer than it was. Despite the loss, the Red realized the quality of its opponent and spoke highly of the Crimson after the loss.

“They are such a good team,” said senior guard and co-captain Chris Wroblewski. “They play so well together. They’re very close and they all came back from last season, so they had a lot of experience together. It reminds me, sort of in a way, of the Cornell team [that reached the Sweet 16] a couple years ago and how we had chemistry and worked so well together.”

The chemistry between different players plays a key part in the fluidity of the team on the court and ensures that everyone is contributing and making a difference, according to Wroblewski.

“A prime example is Oliver McNally, [Harvard’s] starting shooting guard, who is an integral part of their offense, but he only attempted one shot against us Friday night,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to them who scores and I don’t think there’s one guy who needs to get his or needs to put up his quota of shots — they all contribute and enjoy playing together.”

Head coach Bill Courtney agreed with Wroblewski’s assessment, noting that there is no one superstar and any of the Crimson’s players can be the best player on a given night.

“[Forward] Keith Wright is the returning player of the year and he’s a big factor, but all of these guys can put up 20,” Courtney said. “For example, [guard] Laurent Rivard really hurt us on Friday, [scoring 16 points with three 3-pointers].”

Freshman forward Shonn Miller had a strong game against the Crimson, but was limited due to foul trouble. He scored nine points, grabbed eight rebounds and picked up a pair of steals and blocks in just 19 minutes of action.

“[Miller] is playing just so well, and I don’t know where we’d be this season if we didn’t have him,” Wroblewski said. “He does a lot of things that don’t show up in the stats. He does get some blocks, but he alters so many other shots with his jumping ability … He’s so versatile and offensively he brings a different dimension to our team.”

Against Dartmouth, the Red started out strong, scoring the first 10 points of the game. Cornell headed into halftime with a seven-point lead, 33-26.

“We had a great start and we don’t normally do that,” Wroblewski said. “[In the second half], they rallied back and we didn’t execute in the middle part of the game, but it was great to see us close out the game. Last year I don’t think we closed out a game like that.”

Dartmouth pulled within two points with 1:42 remaining, but Cornell ended the game on a 9-2 run to finish off the Green. Similar to Harvard, Dartmouth has a balanced team with several players able to score on any given night. The Green does not have players on the team averaging more than nine points a game.

“They have a lot of guys who are similar players,” Ferry said. “They have some guys who can attack the basket and a couple of the freshmen were good players too. I don’t know if there was one guy who we particularly focused on, it was more of a collective effort to stop the team.”

Despite its record, Cornell did not take Dartmouth lightly, knowing that the Green was hungry for its first Ivy League win.

“They were desperate for a win and so were we,” Wroblewski said. “They were a team that hadn’t won a game yet in the Ivy League. They came and played their tails off and played scrappy and we needed to be the ones [with more] energy.”

Junior guard Johnathan Gray averaged 13.5 points a game against the Crimson and the Green and provided a spark for the team.

“[Gray’s] been tremendous. What he’s done is play with a tremendous amount of spirit,” Courtney said. “He’s playing so hard and really being aggressive and as a coach you’re pleased with that. ... Right now he’s playing the best basketball of his career … and ultimately he’ll continue getting better.”

Even after winning its first road game, the Red is not completely satisfied and hopes to play better in the future, according to Ferry.

“Getting our first road win felt good, but there’s room to play better,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to do so."


HANOVER, N.H. — Cornell raced out to a 10-0 lead after 82 seconds, then fended off every Dartmouth run before pulling away in the final minute to defeat the host Big Green on Saturday night at Leede Arena, 68-59. Shonn Miller boasted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Big Red (8-12, 3-3 Ivy), while Dartmouth (4-18, 0-6 Ivy) were led by senior Kirk Crecco and his season-high 15 points off the bench.

The Big Green won the opening tap, but turned it over on each of their first three possessions. Cornell took advantage each time with buckets from Johnathan Gray, Miller and Chris Wroblewski, forcing Dartmouth head coach Paul Cormier burn a timeout. Wroblewski finished a three-point play after the timeout, and when the Green misfired on its first shot, Drew Ferry buried a three-pointer seconds later for a 10-0 lead and just 1:22 gone from the clock.

While senior Jabari Trotter ended the opening run with a layup, Dartmouth leaned on his classmate, Kirk Crecco, for offense. Crecco scored 11 of the next 12 Big Green points. When freshman Gabas Maldunas sank 1-of-2 at the foul line, Dartmouth found itself within two at 17-15.

After a Gray three-pointer and a free throw by Dwight Tarwater, freshman John Golden converted two free throws to make it a 21-17 game. Miller took over for a span of 1:43, tallying eight straight points — the last coming on a two-hand slam — to extend the Cornell lead from four to 12, its largest of the night.

Three-pointers by Golden and junior R.J. Griffin in the final three minutes of the opening half helped Dartmouth close the gap to seven by the break at 33-26. The big difference came off of turnovers; although the Big Green coughed the ball up just two more times than Cornell, 8-6, the Big Red converted those turnovers into 16 points to just four for Dartmouth.

Miller had 14 of his 15 points on the night during the first half. After intermission, the Big Green kept him under wraps as he did not even attempt a field goal and was just 1-of-2 at the line. Crecco, meanwhile, nearly doubled his season-high entering the game (six points) with 11 during the first 20 minutes of action.

A Cornell free throw started the scoring in the second stanza before Trotter drilled his 100th career three-pointer, making him the 14th player in Dartmouth to hit the century mark from outside the arc. Maldunas, who finished the night with 10 points, provided back-to-back buckets to cut an eight-point deficit in half at 37-33, only to have the Big Red run off seven straight points to boost their lead back to 11.

Five points here for Dartmouth, four points there for Cornell, six points again for the Big Green and the yo-yoing lead bounced from six to 10 down to four with 8:22 to go at 48-44. Eitan Chemerinski converted 1-of-2 at the charity stripe before Maldunas laid another one through the hoop to whittle the deficit to three, 49-46, with 6:21 remaining in the game.

Again the lead oscillated between four and seven points for the next four minutes. Two free throws and a layup by freshman Jvonte Brooks, however, brought the Big Green within two at 59-57 with just 1:42 left to play. But Wroblewski and Gray calmly knocked down eight straight free throws between them as Dartmouth turned it over once and misfired from the floor twice to put the game out of reach.

Dartmouth was held to just 19-of-54 (.352) from the floor with just three three-pointers in 17 attempts (.176), but did knock down 18-of-24 (.750) at the foul line. Cornell was just a bit better in nearly every statistical category, though, shooting 22-of-53 (.415) on field goals and 5-of-19 (.263) on three-pointers. While its free throw percentage was lower at 70.4 percent, it did hit one more free throw with 19 singles in 27 tries.

The Big Red also enjoyed a 40-35 advantage on the boards, led by Miller’s 10 while Tarwater came off the pine to snare nine in 18 minutes. Brooks led Dartmouth with eight caroms.

Joining Miller in double figures for Cornell were Wroblewski with 14 points — half coming at the line — and Gray with 13.

Next up for Dartmouth are road games at Princeton (11-10, 2-3 Ivy) and Penn (12-10, 4-1 Ivy) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, with each game tipping off at 7 p.m. The Big Red will host Yale and Brown next weekend.

The Dartmouth men’s basketball team displayed its potential in two close games this weekend but ultimately failed to convert its efforts into victories. The Big Green lost by a shot to Columbia University (13-9, 2-34Ivy) on Friday night, 64-62, and trailed by two points with less than two minutes to play before losing to Cornell University (8-12, 3-3 Ivy) on Saturday, 68-59.

The urgency in the air was palpable as John Golden ’15 missed on a shot as the buzzer sounded to give Columbia the win and deny the Big Green’s hopes of winning their first Ivy League game. Columbia’s center Mark Cisco hit a 13-foot baseline jumper seconds before, breaking the deadlock and stealing the win.

Tyler Melville ’14 said Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier anticipated Cisco’s presence as offensive threat.

“Coach told us to keep the offense on attack and play good defense on their bigger men,” Melville said. “Cisco, their leading scorer, was doing a lot so he told us to cover him.”

Cisco put up 18 points for the Lions on Friday night.

Columbia led Dartmouth for the majority of the game, but the Big Green never trailed by more than six points. Jvonte Brooks ’15 led the offense with a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds.

Brooks said that the team played well on offense for the majority of the game.

“We wanted to attack them on the inside because we thought we had the advantage down low,” he said. “They had the same plan, which was ironic. We executed our plan well, and it just came down to our last shots.”

Trailing 56-52 with less than five minutes to play, Brooks cut the Lions’ four-point lead with two free throws, and Golden put up two points with a shot from the paint to tie the game. Brooks was fouled again and sank two more free throws, putting Dartmouth in the lead for the first time since the score was 14-12.

Dartmouth could not sit on the lead, however, when Cisco posted up down low and took a shot. The Lions stole the ball on the opposite end, but were thwarted by Golden as he raced down the court to steal the ball back from behind.

R.J. Griffin ’13 got off a pass to Melville, who sank a shot from the left elbow as the shot clock buzzed to put Dartmouth up 60-58.

Dartmouth and Columbia traded foul shots to tie the game at 62 with 49 seconds on the clock. The Lions’ Brian Barbour ran the pick-and-roll to Cisco, who nailed the final baseline jumper to win the game.

Melville says Cisco was tough to cover, but the team put in much effort.

“We could have done a better job on Cisco as a team, but overall, everybody played hard,” he said.

A large deficit in the first half had Dartmouth trailing Cornell throughout most of the game on Saturday night. Although the Big Green got back on its feet in the first half with the help of Kirk Crecco ’12 and his season-high 15 points, a fragmented defense allowed Cornell many easy shots to win.

Brooks said the team did not handle Cornell’s quick offense well.

“Columbia is more of a slow, aggressive team, and Cornell is really fast on the attack,” he said. “We haven’t played a lot of teams like that this year, and we didn’t handle the quickness well. That’s what hurt us in the first half, and we couldn’t make that up.”

Dartmouth held on, however, coming back from an 11-point deficit early in the second half. In the last 6 minutes of the game, Cornell managed to take advantage of Dartmouth’s foul trouble by sinking nearly every foul shot.

The Big Green appeared to have a chance at turning the game around with 1:30 left in the game. Brooks sunk a three-pointer, bringing it up to 57-59. In the final minute, Dartmouth had possession, but lost it and then fouled Cornell. Because the Big Green was in double bonus, Cornell received additional free throws.

The foul shots gave the Big Red an extra edge to come out ahead. Melville said the fouls made the end of the game difficult for the Big Green.

“There were some calls that didn’t go our way, but we also got some good calls,” he said. “We have to adjust to the way the officials call the game and learn to put more or less pressure on the ball depending on how the refs call it.”

Dartmouth shot just 19-for-54 (.352) from the floor against Cornell with just three three-pointers in 17 attempts (.176). The Big Red bested the Big Green in almost every statistical category, shooting 22-for-53 (.415) on field goals and 5-for-19 (.263) on three-pointers. The Big Red’s Shonn Miller boasted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Dartmouth will face Princeton University at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10 and the University of Pennsylvania at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Brooks said the team is looking to capitalize on its potential to close out the season.

“It’s all mental at this point,” he said. “We lose a lot of games we shouldn’t. It’s time to dominate and get some wins now. Coach will of course come up with a good game plan like he does, and we’ll execute.”

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