Saturday, March 3, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 70, Dartmouth 57

The Dartmouth

On the road for its final two games of the season, the Dartmouth men’s basketball team lost to hot-shooting Cornell University, 70-57, on Friday night and battled it out with Columbia University to finish behind, 61-55, on Saturday. The Big Green ended its season with a 1-13 record in conference play, numbers that do not necessarily reflect the team’s improvement this year, players said.

The Big Green lost six of its games — including two in the Ivy League — by only three points or less. Tyler Melville ’14 said he believes that the team’s effort will be reflected more in next year’s record.

“This team has been through a lot of close games,” he said. “Last year, we were not in the games as much, and this year, we took a step forward in that, but we weren’t able to show for it in our record. Next year we should be able to turn a corner.”

The Columbia game on Saturday night was yet another close matchup for Dartmouth in which neither team led by more than seven points throughout the game. The first half started out slowly with the teams tied at seven after 10 minutes of play. After a fast break by the Lions, coach Paul Cormier called a timeout to rally the Big Green, and Dartmouth returned with an eight-point run, the most for any side that night. Buckets by Matt LaBove ’13 and Jvonte Brooks ’15 and two pairs of free throws from Brooks and R.J. Griffin ’13 allowed the Big Green take the lead by four points, 17-13, with 4:15 on the clock for the half.

Dartmouth held onto its lead for the next several minutes, but a three-pointer from Columbia’s offensive star Meiko Lyles gave the Lions a 20-18 lead. The Big Green responded with a slick reverse layup by Captain David Rufful ’12 on a feed from Griffin that tied the score. After Columbia’s Mark Cisco made a free throw, Gabas Maldunas ’15 took a pass from Rufful and got a dunk in with 20 seconds to go.

The Big Green was thwarted in its attempts to end the half ahead when Columbia’s Brian Barbour hit a jumper as the buzzer sounded, ending the period 23-22 in favor of the Lions. Melville said that although the attitude for a comeback was there, somehow it failed to happen.

Dartmouth was never able to regain the lead in the second half. After Columbia’s Lyles hit a three-pointer to begin the period, however, Melville managed to tie the game at 26 with a pair of baskets in the first four minutes. Lyles retaliated with yet another three-pointer and then a pair of layups to give Columbia its largest lead of the night, 33-26. Lyles was 5-for-6 from behind the arc contributing to Columbia’s solid 7-for-15 record (.467), while the Big Green only hit one three-pointer all night.

With less than two minutes to go, Brooks drew several fouls in the paint. His dependable free-throw shooting brought the Big Green with in one point of the lead, 54-53, with 1:58 to play. Brooks led the Big Green in scoring and rebounds that night with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Lyles responded with his fifth three-pointer of the night to bring Columbia to a 57-53 lead with 1:34 left. Dartmouth couldn’t clean house, missing a three-pointer and letting Columbia’s Cisco fly through the Dartmouth defense for two points. The Big Green could only manage to grab two free throws from Griffin in the final 40 seconds of the game to round out the losing effort.

“We just tried to put forth our biggest effort and weren’t able to get it done,” Melville said. “It was definitely a tough loss for us since it was the last game of the season.”

Although the Big Green started out with a 5-0 lead against Cornell, the Big Red’s 11 three-pointers cast a shadow on Dartmouth’s comparatively passive offense. Brooks led the Big Green again with 15 points, but it was not enough to avoid a 13-point loss. Cornell quickly squashed Dartmouth’s early lead with back-to-back trifectas. John Golden ’15 responded with another shot behind the arc, but after a Brooks free throw, Cornell’s Chris Wroblewski drilled two more threes to start a 12-0 run.

With 4:40 to go in the first half, Cornell extended its lead to 13 points, 28-15, but Dartmouth managed to score the final nine points of the period to close the half down by four. The remainder of the game followed in a similar fashion. Dartmouth managed to battle back, but not enough to surpass the excellent offense of the Big Red.

Although the season ended on a low note for the Big Green, the team is still excited for what next year will bring. Melville said that the team is motivated by the close losses to work even harder to bring in the wins.

“Everybody knew it was going take a great effort to be competitive in games, but sometimes down the stretch as a team, we didn’t finish the job,” he said. “I think everyone will be inspired this spring and summer to work harder so we can make progress next year.”

There has been much anticipation this season surrounding players from the Class of 2015, the first class that Cormier recruited. This year, Dartmouth freshmen have earned a total of nine Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards, tying for the third most that a single team has received in one season since the award’s inception in 1984-1985 season. Maldunas has received four awards, followed by Brooks with three and Golden with two.

Brooks said he believes that the Class of 2016 will continue the trend of having a strong freshmen class.

“We have a ton of good recruits coming in that will fill roles on the team that we needed this year,” he said.

The freshmen have learned a significant amount this year, and they believe they will make an even greater impact next year, Brooks said.

“We’ve definitely transitioned into college play,” he said. “We know that we can’t have any games where some of us don’t play well, but we have to be consistent overall. We’ve gotten a lot better and plan to keep improving next year.”

Wroblewski reaches milestone in Cornell basketball win
Red improves to 7-6 in Ivies, hosts Harvard Saturday in finale
The Ithaca Journal

ITHACA -- Cornell University senior point guard Chris Wroblewski became the basketball program's all-time career leader in assists Friday night as the Big Red completed a season sweep of Dartmouth with a 70-57 win at Newman Arena.

Cornell improved to 12-15 overall and 7-6 in the Ivy League, while the Big Green dropped to 5-24 and 1-12.

Wroblewski, who needed just one assist to break the record, finished the game with five to go with 12 points, taking his career total to 475, five ahead of former teammate Louis Dale, who graduated in 2010.

"It's crazy to think about," said Wroblewski, who earlier in the season became the program's 24th 1,000-point scorer and the first two-time Academic All-American. "I'm just humbled by the fact that I get to leave this kind of memory and impact on the Cornell program.

"It's an accomplishment that this whole team should take part in. I've had the privilege of playing with some of the best players to ever suit up in a Cornell uniform."

Wroblewski and three other seniors will be honored prior to Saturday's season-finale against Harvard, which tips off at Newman Arena at 7 p.m. The Crimson, which survived an overtime scare at Columbia Friday night, can clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title with a win.

"This is our championship," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said of Saturday's game. "This is our last game. We're not so much concerned about Harvard as much as we are playing well. We want to send our seniors out on a great note, and for our young guys coming back, we want to know we can compete with some of the best teams in the league."

Wroblewski took little time to hand out the record-breaking assist Friday, finding classmate Drew Ferry for an open 3-pointer from the top of the key with less than three minutes played.

Cornell's first four field goals were all from behind the arc, as the Big Red opened a 28-15 cushion with 4:30 remaining in the first half before Dartmouth closed on a 9-0 run to go into the break down just 28-24.

The second half was all Cornell's, however, as Wroblewski hit four free-throws to put the Big Red up, 45-34, before junior Johnathan Gray hit a trio of 3-pointers to make the score 51-39, 56-43 and eventually 68-46 with 4:38 left on the clock.

Gray finished with a team-high 18 points while Ferry chipped in 16.

Cornell made 11-of-23 from behind the arc, while Dartmouth scored almost half of its points from the charity stripe, going 20-of-32 from the free-throw line. The Big Green were led by Jvonte Brooks with 15 points.

Box Score

Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Senior Chris Wroblewski became Cornell's career leader in assists and was one of three double figure scorers in the Big Red's 70-57 victory over Dartmouth on Friday evening at Newman Arena. The win guarantees the Big Red a .500 finish in Ivy League play and moved the team's record to 12-15 (7-6 Ivy), while Dartmouth slipped to 5-24 (1-12 Ivy).

Wroblewski assisted on a Drew Ferry 3-pointer less than three minutes into the contest to break a tie with former backcourt mate Louis Dale '10, giving him 471. He ended the night with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists to bring his four-year assist total to 475.

Johnathan Gray scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in just 22 minutes of action, while Drew Ferry chipped in 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals without a turnover in 37 minutes of action. Cornell hit on 11-of-23 from 3-point range (48 percent) and turned the ball over just 12 times while playing suffocating pressure defense. The Big Green turned the ball over 16 times and shot just 34 percent overall (20 percent from beyond the arc).

Jvonte Brooks scored 15 points and had nine rebounds to lead Dartmouth, while fellow freshman Gabas Maldunas scored 11 points and had seven baords. The Big Green held a 39-35 edge on the backboards and got to the free-throw line 35 times, though it hit just 63 percent from the charity stripe in collecting its 17th loss in its last 19 contests.

A sloppy first half by both teams won't long be remembered as a clinic, but Cornell still was able to take control despite a slow start. Dartmouth got out to a 5-0 lead and held the Big Red scorelesss for nearly three minutes to open the contest before Wroblewski found Ferry on the left wing for a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 5-3 and end the record watch. Another trey, this time by Gray, gave Cornell its first lead at 6-5. Though Dartmouth momentarily regained the edge, the Big Red started to impose its will.

Wroblewski hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions before picking up his second foul with 13 minutes to play in the half, then Gray scored consecutive baskets and Chemerinski stole a Dartmouth inbounds pass and converted it into a layup to complete a 12-0 run over 2:59. Cornell's pressure defense forced errant passes and quick shots that eventually turned into a double digit Big Red lead. The home team led by as many as 13 before the Big Green inched back with a 9-0 run over the final 4:20 of the half to go into the locker room trailing just 28-24.

The second half was much better for the Big Red. After a back and fourth first three minutes of the stanza, Cornell came alive. A 3-pointer by Ferry and one by Galal Cancer made the lead nine (41-32). After a John Golden steal and dunk got Dartmouth back within seven with just over 12 minutes left to give the visitors some momentum, Cancer ran down the court and picked up a three-point play to get the Big Red crowd back into the game. That triggered a 25-10 Cornell run that turned a tight affair into a laugher, as the hoem team built a 22-point lead with under three minutes remaining. Gray hit two treys and Ferry hit another during the run as both teams emptied the benches late. Dartmouth scored the game's final nine points in the last three minutes to bring the score into more reasonable territory.

Cornell will attempt to send its four seniors (Ferry, Wroblewski, Max Groebe and Anthony Gatlin, who saw his first playing time of the year on Friday night) out on the right note, while also shaking up the Ivy League race when it plays host to Harvard on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN3.

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Cornell Big Red buried 11 three-pointers to send visiting Dartmouth to a 70-57 loss in men’s basketball action on Friday night at Newman Arena. Freshman Jvonte Brooks led the Big Green with 15 points, but he could not help Dartmouth avoid falling to 5-24 on the season and 1-12 in the Ivy League. Cornell (12-15, 7-6 Ivy) was led by Johnathan Gray’s 20 points and four three-pointers.

The Big Green offense struggled shooting the ball on this night, hitting just 16-of-47 (.340) field goals and 6-of-23 (.261) in the first half. At the free throw line, Dartmouth got plenty of opportunities due to 25 Big Red fouls, but converted only 22-of-35 (.629).

Things began well for the Green as they jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on a Brooks layup and three free throws. But Drew Ferry and Gray gave a taste of what was to come with back-to-back three-pointers. Dartmouth rookie John Golden answered with a trey of his own, but after a Brooks free throw, Chris Wroblewski drilled two more trifectas for the Big Red to start a 12-0 run.

Cornell extended its lead to 13 points at 28-15 with 4:40 left, but the Big Green battled back, scoring the final nine points of the stanza to close within four at the intermission. Brooks sank 1-of-2 at the line, then senior David Rufful and freshman Gabas Maldunas each knocked down a jumper. Maldunas added two more foul shots before dishing off to senior Kirk Crecco for a layup to cap the run.

In the second half, the Big Red briefly made it a nine-point game before Golden popped another trifecta and Brooks laid one in to once again make it a four-point contest at 35-31. Then the Cornell three-pointers started up again, first by Ferry then Galal Cancer for another nine-point advantage, 41-32.

The two teams traded free throws back and forth twice before Golden threw down a tremendous dunk. But a three-point play by Cancer just 10 seconds later boosted the lead back to 10. Rufful canned a foul shot to get the deficit back to nine, but Gray came right back with another long ball to keep the difference in double digits the rest of the night.

The Big Red lead ballooned to as many as 22 as Ferry and Gray each hit another three-pointer, but as in the first half, Dartmouth scored the final nine points of the period with Crecco drilling a three and adding a layup.

Gray was only 6-of-15 shooting on the night for Cornell, but 4-of-7 on three-pointers and 4-of-4 at the charity stripe to put up his 20 points. Ferry also hit four treys in scoring 16, and Wroblewski — who did not have a field goal after his two early threes — finished with 12 thanks to a perfect 6-for-6 night at the line.

Although Cornell shot under 40 percent for the evening (22-of-56, .393), its 11 triples came in just 23 attempts, a 47.8 percent clip. The Big Red also converted 15-of-19 (.789) at the line.

Brooks just missed out on a double-double, leading all players with nine boards. Of his 15 points, nine came at the foul line in 12 attempts. Maldunas was the only other Big Green player to top 10 points (11), and he led the team with three assists. Dartmouth had the edge in the rebounding department, 39-35, but committed 16 turnovers to 12 for the host Big Red.

Dartmouth will conclude its season tomorrow night at Columbia (14-15, 3-10 Ivy) at 7 p.m. Cornell finishes up by hosting league-leading Harvard (25-4, 11-2 Ivy) with a chance to spoil the Crimson’s hopes of earning at least a share of the conference crown.

There’s no place like home for the Cornell men’s basketball team, as the Big Red continued their brilliant play in Ithaca with a 70-57 win over Dartmouth Friday night at Newman Arena. The Big Red (12-15, 7-6 Ivy League) improved to 10-2 at home, applying a full court press throughout the game to up the tempo and wear down the Big Green (5-24, 1-12).

“That’s been a staple of our team this year–getting after teams and speeding them up,” said senior guard Drew Ferry. “Eventually we wore (Dartmouth) down with our pressure and that kind of intensity.”

The Big Green jumped out to an 8-3 lead early, but never led by more than five points, struggling to knock down shots offensively. The Big Red held Dartmouth to 34 percent shooting on the night, and only 20 percent shooting from behind the arc, while shooting 48 percent from three-point range.

“We struggled shooting last weekend, especially against Yale,” said Ferry. “We shot terribly (at Yale), but we still have to come out confidently and even if they weren’t falling in the first half…we’re a smaller team so making those three pointers is a big part of our success.”

Although the Big Green went to the charity strike 35 times, they only shot 63 percent from the line and missed 13 free throws. A late run in the second half was capped off by a Jonathan Gray three that gave the Big Red there biggest lead of the game at 68-46 with eight minutes remaining.

The Big Red conclude their season tomorrow night against first-place Harvard, which will be the final game for seniors Drew Ferry, Anthony Gatlin, Max Groebe and Chris Wroblewski, the latter two members of the Big Red’s 2010 Sweet 16 team.

Wroblewski’s five assists on the night also put him past former teammate Louis Dale ’10 as the all-time assists leader (475) at Cornell, breaking Dale’s mark of 471.

“It’s hard for me to fathom the kind of experiences and memories that I’m going to walk away from in this program,” said Wroblewski. “To experience the things I have, it’s just surreal. It feels like I’m living a dream.”

The Crimson avoided an upset, beating Columbia Friday night in overtime to remain in first-place and a half-game ahead of Penn, attempting to clinch the Ivy League and earn their first ticket to the NCAA Tournament since 1946.

“That would be a great way to end my career at Cornell,” he said. “You want to beat a great team like Harvard and spoil their season. That would be ideal for us.”

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