Thursday, January 3, 2013

Game Recap: Cornell 56, Bucknell 72

Below, recaps from Wednesday...





ITHACA — Bryson Johnson scored 15 points and Mike Muscala added 13 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday as Bucknell defeated Cornell, 72-56, in nonleague men’s basketball action at Newman Arena. The loss snapped CU’s two-game win streak.

The Bison (13-2) shot a stellar 62 percent from the floor for the game (28-for-45), including a blazing 15-for-19 in the second half (79 percent). The winners also shot 47 percent from 3-point range (7-for-15) and pulled away in the second half after a back-and-forth first half ended with the Bison ahead by two, 31-29.

Cornell (6-9) led by as many as five points in the first half but was behind the rest of the way after tying the game at 34 early in the second half. Josh Figini scored 15 points, including 3-for-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line, to lead the Red. Shonn Miller added 14 points, while Galal Cancer and Dominick Scelfo added 10 apiece.

The Big Red committed just 10 turnovers, but hurt itself with poor free-throw shooting, making just eight of 18 attempts (44.4 percent) while the Bison went 9-for-13 (69.2 percent).

Cornell battled back after a slow start as Bucknell scored 12 unanswered points early on to take a 12-2 lead. Cornell used a 19-5 run over the next 10 minutes to grab a four-point lead, 21-17, and a Figini 3-pointer gave Cornell its biggest lead, 24-19, with 4:13 remaining in the half.

Bucknell responded with the game’s next nine points to take a 28-24 lead, and the half ended with the visitors ahead by two after Johnson nailed a 3 with 42 seconds left until intermission.

Cornell equalized on a Johnathan Gray 3-pointer and a pair of Figini free throws in the first 3:09 of the half, but the Bison went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:51 and didn’t lead by fewer than four points after that. Up by five with 5:53 to play, Bucknell used a 13-2 run — fueled by a pair of Johnson treys — to build a 70-54 advantage with 21/2 minutes left.

Cornell travels to American University on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip-off.



Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell's pressure defense gave Bucknell fits throughout, but the Bison made almost every open shot it could fire off after halftime to pull away late in a 72-56 victory over the Big Red on Wednesday evening at Newman Arena. The Big Red dropped to 6-9, while Bucknell improved to 13-2.

Senior Josh Figini scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds, had two steals and blocked a shot to lead four double figure scorers. Shonn Miller added 14 points and two steals and both Galal Cancer and Dominick Scelfo had 10 points. All nine players who saw action for the Big Red had at least one steal as the team posted a season-high 12 on the night. Cornell had just 10 turnovers, but struggled from the free-throw line (8-of-18) and were outrebounded 34-24.

Cameron Ayers led the Bison with 16 points, while Bryson Johnson had 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Former Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala was again outstanding with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and four assists, but Cornell did a nice job limiting his touches. The 6-11 NBA prospect attempted just five shots. Joe Willman chipped in 10 points. The Bison had 20 assists on their 28 baskets.

While Cornell forced 14 turnovers, the Bison made just about every skip pass count after halftime, making 15-of-19 shots (79 percent), including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

It was a nip-and-tuck game for 34 minutes with Cornell only trailing by five with under six minutes to play when Shonn Miller hit the first of two free throws. Three Bucknell possessions later and it was a 13-point game. Bryson Johnson and Steven Kaspar hit 3-pointers sandwiched around a layup by Cameron Ayers. That started a string where the visitors scored of six of seven possessions to extend the lead.

Though the Big Red never led in the second half, Cornell was tied at 34-34 on a pair of free throws by Josh Figini just seconds after Johnathan Gray nailed a 3-pointer. Ryan Hill then came down the court and nailed a 3-pointer of his own with 16:35 remaining and Bucknell would lead the rest of the way.

Cornell led by as many as five points in the first half when Figini nailed a trey from the top of the jey to make it 24-19 with four minutes on the clock and was still up one after Gray found Miller underneath for a thunderous dink with 74 seconds left. Ayers found an open Bryson Johnson for a 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock to put Bucknell back in the lead (31-29) and Cornell couldn't get a good luck on its final possession.

The Big Red will hit the road for the final time in non-conference play when it visits American on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.


ITHACA, N.Y. - For the second year in a row Bucknell got all it could handle from Bill Courtney '92 and the Cornell Big Red, but the Bison outscored Cornell 15-4 over the last 5:36 and prevailed 72-56 at Newman Arena to get to 13-2 on the season. Cameron Ayers scored a game-high 16 points to help Bucknell equal its best 15-game start in program history, and the Bison became the first team in Patriot League history to get to 13 regular-season non-conference wins.

Bryson Johnson had a terrific all-around game with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists with only one turnover in 35 minutes. Mike Muscala recorded his ninth double-double of the season and 33rd of his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds to go with four blocks and four assists. Joe Willman also scored in double-figures with 10 points in only 17 minutes.

Willman spent most of the night in foul trouble, but Bucknell got some big minutes from Brian Fitzpatrick (4 points, 2 assists) off the bench. Point guard Steven Kaspar also was stellar off the bench down the stretch, scoring five big points and assisting on Johnson's dagger 3-pointer in the closing minutes.

Cornell applied aggressive full-court pressure from start to finish and forced 14 Bucknell turnovers, but the Bison had 20 assists on 28 field goals, shot 78.9 percent (15-19) in the second half and a season-high 62.2 percent for the game.

Josh Figini scored 15 points off the bench to lead the Big Red, who had their two-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 6-9 on the season. 

Bucknell led by two at the half and by five after a 3-point play by Muscala, but Cornell came back with five straight points to tie the game at 34-apiece. Ryan Hill, who had seven points and three steals, put the Bison back in front with a 3-pointer, then stripped a Cornell player on a drive and went coast-to-coast for a layup. Johnson followed with a tough runner in traffic to give the Bison a 41-34 lead.

Cornell stayed in it with some 3-pointers and a handful of forced turnovers, but the Bison finally gained some separation around the five-minute mark. Leading by just five at 57-52, Johnson caught a skip pass from Willman and drained a 3-pointer. Willman then found Ayers for a backdoor layup, and Kaspar beat the shot clock with a contested 3-pointer to make it 65-52 with 3:59 left.

Bucknell got out to a great start, scoring on six straight possessions in a 12-0 run for an early 12-2 lead. Muscala assisted on four of those six buckets, including three to Willman. But Willman picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench with 13:59 left in the half.

With Willman out, Bucknell managed only two field goals over the next 11:30 as Cornell surged back ahead. Dominick Scelfo's second 3-pointer of the night pulled the Big Red within 17-16, and a fastbreak layup by Johnathan Gray give Cornell its first lead since 2-0.

The Big Red led by as many as five in the opening half at 24-19 after a Figini 3-pointer. Bucknell answered with a 9-0 run, that was highlighted by five quick points by Ayers and two assists from Ben Brackney in a solid stint off the bench. Cornell got a 3-pointer from Gilal Cancer and a jam by Shonn Miller to go back ahead 29-28, but Johnson came back with a 3-pointer and the Bison got a stop on the final possession to go into the locker room ahead 31-29.

Bucknell equaled the 1983-84 team for the best 15-game start in program history. The Bison improved to 25-23 in a closely contested series against Cornell, and they are now 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Ivy League.

Bucknell made its first nine free throws of the night before finishing 9-for-13, while Cornell left some points on the table with an 8-for-18 showing from the line. Cornell shot 36.4 percent from the floor and made 8 of 24 from 3-point range. The Bison outrebounded Cornell 34-24 and forced 10 turnovers.

The Bison play their final regular-season non-league game at No. 12 Missouri on Saturday at 4 p.m. (Eastern).

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