Monday, February 25, 2013

Game Recap: Cornell 53, Princeton 72

ITHACA — The Cornell men’s and women’s basketball teams both suffered through winless Ivy League weekends, the men dropping a pair at home and the women falling twice on the road.

Pennsylvania defeated the Cornell men on Friday night, 79-71, as freshman Tony Hicks exploded for a career-high 29 points. The Big Red followed that up with a 72-53 loss to visiting Princeton Saturday night.

Penn topped the Cornell women, 67-40, Friday night in Philadelphia, and league-leading Princeton cruised to a 59-34 win over the Red Saturday night.

• MEN: Tigers senior Ian Hummer finished with 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds to power Princeton (14-9 overall, 7-2 Ivy League), which shot 57.9 percent from the floor.

Will Barrett opened the second half with a 3-pointer to give the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 36-14. The Red (13-14, 5-5) managed to trim the lead to seven midway through the second half, but Princeton, which never trailed in the game, responded with eight straight points.

Barrett finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and Denton Koon added 11 points for the Tigers.

“They are such a big team, and they make you play 1-on-1 basketball,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “They guard you 1-on-1, make you shoot it, and then try to contest your shot. They did a great job of contesting our shots and once they did, we saw ghosts a little bit as we went to the basket.”

Cornell sophomore Shonn Miller scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Cornell.

On Friday, Hicks, who entered the game averaging 7.6 points, scored 15 of his game-high 29 points during the opening five minutes of the first half.

With Penn down by four early in the second half, Hicks scored nine straight points to push the Quakers ahead for good.

“We mainly just allowed them to be a 3-point shooting team,” said freshman Nolan Cressler, who scored a career-high 22 points. “We gave them looks. They were feeling good about themselves and continued knocking down shots. We weren’t getting out on our rotations good enough. It was more just their confidence that we allowed them to build up.”

The Red, which wraps up its home schedule next weekend against Yale and Brown, will use this week of practice to re-focus on defensive fundamentals.

“We shot 5 for 32 in the first half, which was ridiculous,” senior Errick Peck said. “It was just ugly. We just couldn’t make shots. We missed some lay-ups, I missed some lay-ups. I don’t even know how to explain it. It was just a tough game.”

A weekend that could have put the Red (13-14, 5-5 Ivy League) on the heels of the conference leaders ended in disappointment, as the Red’s hopes of an Ivy title and a bid to the NCAA tournament disintegrated. On Friday night, Penn’s efficient 3-point shooting and aggressive on-ball defense plagued Cornell, while Princeton’s methodic offense and length in the paint proved too much for the Red to handle in a 72-53 loss Saturday.

Against the Quakers (7-19, 4-5), the Red played a solid first half, going into the locker room with a four-point lead. Though guard Tony Hicks was three-for-three from beyond the arc in the half, the rest of the Quakers were only one-for-six. The Red dominated the final ten minutes of the half with back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman guard Nolan Cressler and junior Guard Dominick Scelfo. However, that hot shooting all but evaporated in the second half as Penn’s shooters caught fire instead.

“Penn did a good job executing their offense,” said senior forward Eitan Chemerinski. “At some critical moments in the game, we had some defensive lapses and miscommunications, which gave them open looks at the basket.”

Hicks continued his impressive performance, scoring nine unanswered points midway through the half to give Penn the lead. He finished the game with 29 points, leading all scorers.

“Hicks did a good job coming off his prior experience getting some open threes,” Chemerinski said. “We could have done a better job chasing him around screens and helping to make sure he didn’t get open looks.”

Though the Red was never completely out of striking distance, the squad failed to make a significant run and was unable to get the lead under five in the final ten minutes. Both Hicks and guard Miles Cartwright — who had 15 points and nine assists in the game — hit clutch free throws down the stretch to eventually put the Red away, 79-71.

In a game that could have given the Red one more chance at staying alive in the race to the top of the Ancient Eight, Cornell looked lethargic in the first half Saturday night against Princeton (14-9, 7-2). The squad shot just over 15 percent from the field and only scored 14 points in the half. Going into the locker room down 33-14, it looked like the Tigers were ready to run away with a decisive win.

“In the first half, we had some good looks, and a lot of shots weren’t falling,” Chemerinski said. “Princeton did a good job defensively, but the most important thing was we didn’t do a good enough job moving the ball around.”

However, the Red started to interrupt Princeton’s rhythmic offense in the second half. The full court press that Cornell kept on for most of the game became more effective, and the Tigers started to turn the ball over.

“We did a better job in the second half of speeding them up,” Chemerinski said.

The quickness of senior guard Miles Asafo-Adjei helped to start the Red’s run. He picked the pocket of Princeton’s point guard at midcourt and was able to turn it into a fast-break layup on the other end. Senior forward Errick Peck followed suit with a steal of his own, handing the ball off to sophomore guard Galal Cancer. Cancer missed his first shot but got the rebound back and scored in the paint, making the score 42-31.

The two teams traded baskets for the next five minutes. Then, after a steal by sophomore guard Devin Cherry, Scelfo wove his way into the paint and scored on a finger roll under the basket, bringing the Newman Arena crowd to its feet for the first time. Princeton missed on the other end and sophomore forward Shonn Miller corralled the rebound, getting the Red out in transition. Cherry made a pretty move in the paint, and though the layup rimmed out, Chemerinski was there above the rim to tip it back in and put the Red within seven points of the Tigers with eight minutes to go.

In keeping with the woes of the weekend, however, Princeton’s guard TJ Bray hit a three on the next possession, silencing the crowd and spurring a 9-0 run by the Tigers from which the Red could not recover.

Though he was forced to battle in the post all night with Princeton’s star forward Ian Hummer, Miller had the biggest game for Cornell, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. However, the Red was still outrebounded by the rest of the Tigers’ significantly taller lineup.

“Princeton is one of the biggest teams [in the Ivy League]; their strength is their size,” Chemerinski said. “They are a good rebounding team, and that is always a point of emphasis for us. It’s going to continue to be a big priority in the rest of our games.”

The loss of senior guard Johnathan Gray to an injury only added to the Red’s struggles to generate offense this weekend. Gray is one of only two Cornell players averaging double digits this season. He was coming off two 18-point games in a row before being sidelined.

“It was definitely a big loss for us not to have Johnny,” Chemerinski said. “But coach always tells us, the next guy has to step up, and we all have to do a good job collectively to pick up the slack and just keep up the intensity, even if Johnny can’t play.”

With Harvard and Princeton both sweeping their Ivy matchups this weekend, the Red finds itself tied for third place and four games back in the win column with as many games to go in the season. The squad will be back at home next weekend for rematches with Brown and Yale.

Coming off last week’s devastating loss at Harvard, the men’s basketball team hit the court again this past weekend with back-to-back away games at Columbia (11-13 overall, 3-7 Ivy League) on Friday and Cornell (13-14, 5-5) on Saturday.

As they have done for most of the season, the Tigers (14-9, 7-2) relied on their smothering defense en route to two blowout victories, winning 65-40 and 72-53 versus Columbia and Cornell, respectively.

After trailing for the first few minutes against Columbia, Princeton staged a quick 6-0 run that gave it the lead for good with over 14 minutes remaining in the first half.

Up 27-20 with just over four minutes left in the first half, the Tigers started a furious run that saw them score 15 unanswered points in less than seven minutes of game time to effectively wrap up the game early in the second half.

As he has done all season, senior forward Ian Hummer turned in a complete effort, recording a line of 17 points on 7-11 shooting with five assists and three boards. He was complemented offensively by sophomore forward Denton Koon, who dropped 23 points to bounce back after a rough outing against Harvard.

In addition to strong individual efforts, Princeton also played stifling team defense and rebounded well. The Tigers outshot the Lions by a mark of 56.1 percent to 34 percent and won the rebound margin 32-23.

The Tigers then traveled to Ithaca to stave off Cornell, which was one place behind Princeton in the standings.

The Tigers scored the first five points of the game and used an active defense to stymie Cornell’s attack, holding the Big Red to an abysmal 15.6 percent shooting through the first half. In contrast, Princeton knocked down 57.9 percent of its first-half shots to take a commanding 33-14 lead at the break.

One area of concern for the Tigers was offensive rebounding. Although Cornell failed to convert the majority of its shots in the first half, it dominated the offensive boards, taking 14 rebounds to Princeton’s six. However, the Tigers did win the total rebounding battle 32-26.

The second half featured more back-and-forth action, with Cornell doing a good job of cutting its 19-point halftime deficit. But Princeton did enough to ensure that Cornell never came closer than seven points in the second half.

The Tigers were again led by Hummer, who paced the team with 23 points (on an efficient 10 of 12 shooting performance), seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Koon and junior forward Will Barrett also scored in double figures to balance Princeton’s attack.

In addition to keeping pace with Harvard for the Ivy League crown — Harvard won both of its weekend games to remain one game ahead in the standings — the story of the weekend was Hummer.

With his 40 points this weekend, he has closed in on second place on Princeton’s all-time scoring list. His 1,541 career points put him just five behind Kit Mueller ’91 and nine behind recent standout Doug Davis ’12, who is second to the legendary Bill Bradley ’65 (2,503).

The Tigers will return to action on Friday at home in a highly anticipated matchup with Harvard (17-7, 9-1). The game is a must-win for the Tigers if they hope to keep their dreams of an Ivy League crown and NCAA tournament bid alive.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in Jadwin Gymnasium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Sophomore Shonn Miller scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a matchup against Ivy League Player of the Year candidate Ian Hummer, but the Tigers' senior matched with 23 points and seven rebounds of his own as Princeton claimed a 72-53 win over Cornell on Saturday evening at Newman Arena.

Miller added a pair of steals and made 10-of-11 free throws as Cornell was able to crash the offensive boards and turn the Tigers over 15 times, resulting in 19 more field goal attempts. Princeton was able to make the most of the shots it got, though, hitting on 58 percent of its shots overall and connecting on 22-of-25 free throws (88 percent). He was the lone Big Red player to reach double figures, though Errick Peck had nine points, five rebounds and three steals off the bench.

Hummer was outstanding all evening, hitting on 10-of-12 field goals and adding three assists, two blocks and a steal to his 23 and 7. Will Barrett (13 points) and Denton Koon (11 points) also reached double figures for Princeton, who held a 32-26 edge on the backboards.

Cornell fell behind by as many as 22 points in the opening seconds of the second half before clawing all the way back to seven at 48-41on an Eitan Chemerinski with a little less than nine minutes left, but right on script, TJ Bray knocked down a 3-pointer to push it right back into double figures. The Big Red didn't have a final run in it after chipping away for much of the first 10 minutes of the second half.

The deficit was in double figures much of the first half as Cornell struggled to make shots. At halftime the Big Red was 5-of-32 (16 percent) and had just one 3-pointer. It made only one more in the second half while taking a season-low nine attempts. The home team didn't get on the board until 4:24 into the contest when Devin Cherry hit Errick Peckfor a trey to make it 5-3, and a ti-in by Peck a minute later made it 6-5 Tigers. Just over seven minutes later, Princeton was leading by 14.

The Big Red second half run was a gradual shift, that started in earnest with an Erric Peck steal and layup on the other end four minutes in. Miller scored five straight and then both Miles Asafo-Adjei and Galal Cancer scored after consecutive steals to make it an 11-point game. A driving layup by Dominick Scelfo that rimmed around and down, followed by a driving basket by Devin Cherry, made it 46-35. Cornell got another layup from Scelfo and a tip-in from Chemerinski after a Cherry miss and all of a sudden it was 48-41 with more than eight minutes remaining in regulation.

But then Princeton went to work. Chris Clement found an open Bray in the right corner for a 3-pointer. Clement then scored a pair of free throws, Hummer hit a tough jumper and Koon hit two more free throws to get it back to 16. Miller tried to will Cornell back in it with seven points in the next three minutes, but the Tigers pulled away, hitting five straight shots from the charity stripe late before both teams emptied their benches.

Cornell will close out its home schedule next weekend when it meets Brown (Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m.) and Yale (Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m.) as part of Senior Weekend.

With just two games in between the pair of showdowns with Harvard, the Princeton men's basketball team had business to take care of to set up next Friday's showdown.
The Tigers have done their part. Following up a 25-point win over Columbia Friday night, Princeton got past Cornell 72-53 to remain with just two league losses at 7-2, 14-9 overall. Cornell fell to 13-14, 5-5 in the Ivy.
Harvard also won both of its games this weekend, keeping it with just one league loss at 9-1. Friday's game will be televised from Jadwin Gymnasium on ESPNU and is set for a 7 p.m. start.
Princeton scored the first five points and held Cornell without a point for the first 4:25, keeping the Big Red to 5-of-32 shooting in the first half. The Tiger lead was 19 at halftime, and a Will Barrett 3-pointer made it 36-14 to open the second half.
Soon after, the Big Red began to rally. Princeton had a 42-24 advantage with 14:30 to play in the game before Cornell went on a 17-6 run to pull within seven at 48-41 with eight minutes left. A T.J. Bray 3-pointer stopped the rally, and the Tigers rode out the win from there.
Ian Hummer led Princeton in scoring with 23 points, his fifth 20-point game of the season and his highest total since tying his career best with 28 at Elon on Jan. 5. Barrett, with 13 points, and Denton Koon, with 11 after besting his career high at Columbia with 22 last night, were also in double figures.
Shonn Miller led Cornell with 23 points as the only player in double figures, just ahead of nine points for Errick Peck off the bench.
Princeton outshot Cornell for the game 57.9 percent to 31.6 percent, even when taking into account Cornell's 52 percent shooting in the second half. The Tigers compounded that with a 32-26 rebounding edge, though the Big Red had 14 offensive rebounds.
Postgame notes
• The win was Princeton's largest margin of victory in Ithaca since 1997, when the Tigers beat the Big Red 66-42. Current assistant coach Brian Earl '99 had 16 points in that game, second on the team to 20 from Gabe Lewullis '99.
• With 23 points, Ian Hummer set up the possibility of becoming Princeton's second-leading all-time scorer next weekend. He now has 1,541 points, just five behind Kit Mueller '91 in third place and nine behind former teammate Douglas Davis '12 in second place.
• This was only Princeton's third win in Ithaca after winning three straight in Newman Arena from 2002-04. The other wins came in 2006, in double overtime, and in 2011, by two points.
• Cornell had just three assists on 18 baskets.
• Princeton overcame turning the ball over 15 times to seven for Cornell.
• The Tigers shot .570 (45-79) from the field for the weekend, defeating Columbia by 25 points and Cornell by 19. Princeton allowed its two opponents to shoot .327 (34-104) from the field for the weekend and .192 (5-26) from 3-point range.
• Chris Clement scored 13 of his 36 points on the season this weekend. He had seven tonight against Cornell. Clement also made all five free throws he tried over the two games.
• Will Barrett's 13 points were his most since scoring 14 also against the Big Red on Feb. 1 in Jadwin Gym.

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