Sunday, February 17, 2013

Game Recap: Cornell 69, Brown 66



The road is proving to be a friendlier place than Newman Arena for the Cornell men’s basketball team.

The Big Red improved to 4-1 on the road in Ivy League play with a weekend sweep of Yale and Brown. The Big Red defeated Brown 69-66 on Saturday at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, R.I., one night after a big 68-61 victory against Yale in New Haven, Conn., to move into sole possession of third place in the Ivy League.

Senior Johnathan Gray scored 18 points in each win and sophomore Shonn Miller added a combined 31 points in two games for the Red (13-12).

“Any time you can get some road wins, it’s a big time bonus,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “Guys showed a lot of toughness this weekend. Our motto is taking it one game at time, and I think it paid off.”

The Red survived to win despite missing six of eight free-throw attempts in the final 35 seconds against Brown.

“The great thing about that win is that we didn’t play all that well,” Courtney said. “We toughed it out and gutted it out. That was a great thing. Our mental toughness is huge. We didn’t make some perimeter shots and we missed some free throws in the closing seconds, but we took care of the basketball. We executed our defensive game game plan and that dictated the tempo of the game.”

Gray hit two 3-pointers in the first half, including one that started an 11-0 run that pushed Cornell’s lead to 38-24.

Cornell, which has defeated the Bears 13 consecutive times, led 40-29 at halftime as Gray scored 14 points and Miller added nine points, four rebounds and three blocks. Miller finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Brown clawed its way back into the game, moving within 57-56 with 6:30 remaining on a 3-pointer from Matt Sullivan. Cornell responded with two 3-pointers — one from Galal Cancer and another from Gray.

Brown again moved within one with 1:28 left when Stephen Albrecht hit a 3-pointer. Cornell extended its lead with two free throws, but Brown remained in the game due to problems from the line for the Red. Albrecht missed a contested 3-pointer with two seconds left and Cornell escaped with the win.

“We had to keep our energy up,” Courtney said. “We got into Providence Friday night, rested, and made sure we kept our energy level high for Saturday. energy. I thought we had a tremendous advantage with footspeed. That really helped us against Brown.”

Miller finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Gray hit a pair of 3-pointers in the closing minutes to lift the Red against the Bulldogs. Senior Errick Peck added 12 points and Cancer chipped in five assists for Cornell.

The Red led 30-27 at halftime. Yale took its first lead of the game early in the second half, but Gray made two 3-pointers in the closing minutes and Cancer made 3 of 4 from the free-throw line in the final 42 seconds for Cornell.

“It sounds cliché, but it’s our mantra, it’s our motto, keeping it one game at a time,” Courtney said. “Keeping that focus is really allowing our guys to up the intensity on defense. We might not be making shots on offense, but the way we have been executing the game plan has really helped us be successful.”


Coming into the weekend in third place in the Ivy League, the Cornell men’s basketball team (13-12, 5-3 Ivy League) battled in two must-win games to keep pace with league leaders Harvard and Princeton and remain in contention for a shot at the conference title. The Red did just that, beating Yale (10-15, 4-4) on Friday, 68-61, and pulling out a tight win against Brown (9-13, 3-5), 69-66, the following night.

Against Yale, the Red was led by sophomore forward Shonn Miller and senior guard Johnny Gray, who scored 18 points apiece. Miller filled the rest of the stat sheet as well, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking three shots and recording two steals. Gray hit four threes in the game, including some important shots late in the game.

“[Miller and Gray] did a good job on defense and creating for themselves on offense, scoring some big buckets,” said senior forward Errick Peck. “Johnny had a few buckets in the clutch and so did Shonn. They came up big when it mattered.”

According to senior captain and point guard Miles Asafo-Adjei, Gray was able to maintain the Red’s offensive rhythm. 

“Gray was able to hit big shot after big shot, especially in the second half when we slowed down a little offensively,” he said. “Whenever Yale was making a run, it seemed like Johnny would hit a big shot and put us ahead or give us a cushion.”

On the other side of the court, Miller made the Bulldogs put up difficult shots, giving the Red more opportunities to score.

“[As for Miller], the things he does for us on the defensive end of the floor are incredible. He alters shots, and makes it difficult for whoever he’s guarding all game long,” Asafo-Adjei said. “Offensively, he’s coming into his own. He can shoot, he can go to the basket and he’s a super athlete. He’s getting better and better every night.”

Going into the game, containing Yale point guard Javier Duren was a priority and the Red was successful in doing just that. He only scored seven points and recorded seven assists, turning the ball over four times in the process.

“The game plan for Duren was just to pressure him all night,” Asafo-Adjei said. “He played a lot of minutes, so we tried to wear him down and get him a little tired. … We tried to make all his shots difficult.”

Another key player the Red focused on stopping was Yale’s 6’0” shooting guard Austin Morgan. He finished with just nine points, only able to get six shots off from the field as a result of the Red’s defense.

“Morgan is a smaller guard and can really shoot it, but needs time and space to [get his shot off],” Peck said. “I remember during my sophomore year, he beat us on a buzzer beater so I definitely didn’t want to lose on another one of those plays again. … But this time, we did a good job against him.”

On Saturday, the Red started off strong in the first half, carrying a 40-29 lead into the locker room against Brown. However, similar to the Yale game, Cornell’s offense slowed down and the Bears were able to get back into the game. The team found this trend a little troubling, but does not believe it will continue into the future, according to Asafo-Adjei.

“It’s tough to say [why we struggled in the second half],” Asafo-Adjei said. “We play so hard on the defensive end and sometimes that will have an effect on your offense. I’m not worried about it in the future; we just need to get open looks at the basket and I’m sure that this trend won’t continue.”

Miller and Gray again led the Red in the victory, as Miller stuffed the stat sheet again with 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Gray led the team in scoring with 18 points, hitting another four three-pointers in the process. Although the team relied on Gray throughout the game, he struggled at the line late in the game, hitting just one of six from the stripe, allowing Brown to crawl back into the game.

“Down the stretch, Brown made some big three-pointers to get back into the game,” Asafo-Adjei said. “Just like the night before, we slowed down offensively in the second half, but we’re proud of getting some stops when we needed, winning the game on defense. It definitely wouldn’t have been as close if we converted some free throws at the end, but we’re happy to come out with the win.”

Brown was led by point guard Sean McGonagill, who scored 19 points on 8-14 from the field, but recorded just one assist and turned the ball over six times.

“[McGonagill] is obviously their best player. It’s tough [to stop him] because for 90 percent of the game, the ball is in his hands, so he’s going to get a lot of looks at the basket,” Asafo-Adjei said. “We tried to make it difficult on him all game and I think we did a good job of that in the first half, but he got a little lost in the second half off of some screens and plays in transition.”

The other key performer for the Bears was freshman forward Cedric Kuakumensah, who scored 13 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, helping Brown outrebound the Red, 41-31.

“[Kuakumensah] is just physical, working the glass and getting easy buckets,” Peck said. “We play them again in two weeks, so next time, we’ll do a better job of keeping him off the glass. He didn’t score that much [away from the key], just near the basket, so we’ll do a better job next time we play them.”


Trailing by 11-points at the half, Brown mounted a strong second rally that came up short, falling to Cornell by a 69-66 margin at the Pizzitola Sports Center, snapping a six game home winning streak. Senior guard Johnathan Gray led the Big Red with 18 points, and junior guard Sean McGonagill paced Brown with 19 points.

The loss drops Brown to 9-13 overall, 3-5 in the Ivy League, while Cornell extends its record to 13-12, 5-3 in Ivy play.
Trailing, 69-66, Brown had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but senior Steve Albrecht’s trey with two seconds remaining fell off the mark.

“We can’t keep digging ourselves a hole in the first half,” said Brown head coach Mike Martin, whose team trailed 40-29 at intermission. “We weren’t ready to defend at the outset and it cost us the game.”

Bears’ freshman center Cedric Kuakumensah turned in his second straight dominating performance, pulling down a career high 19 rebounds, and completing the double-double with 13 points. He also blocked four shots, and now has 50 blocks for the season, most by a Brown freshman and second overall in Bears’ basketball history.

McGonagill’s 19 points came on 8-of-14 shooting from the field for the Bears. He moved into 23rd place on Brown’s all-time scoring list, now with 1,029 career points. Brown sophomore Rafael Maia chipped in with nine points.

Gray netted 14 of his 18 points in the opening 20 minutes and connected on 6-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-9 from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore Shonn Miller also scored in double figures with 13 points, while grabbing eight rebounds.

Brown trailed, 24-22, with 4:30 left in the opening half, after a lay-up by senior Matt Sullivan.

Cornell exploded with a 16-7 run to end the half and grab a 40-29 lead after 20-minutes.

For the second straight night, Brown clawed its way back into the game and cut the Cornell lead to one point, 57-56, on a Sullivan trey with 6:32 remaining. Cornell answered with consecutive treys by Galal Cancer and Gray to go back up by seven points, 63-56.

McGonagill’s trey with 25-seconds remaining pulled Brown to within two points, 68-66. Cancer connected on one of two free throws with 18 seconds left to put the Big Red ahead, 69-66.

Brown is back in action again next Friday, February 22, hosting Harvard at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The game will be televised live on MyRITV starting at 7 pm. The Bears also host Dartmouth on Saturday evening, February 23, at 6pm.


Box Score

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Cornell men's basketball team improved to 4-1 in Ivy play away from home by completing a weekend sweep with a 69-66 nailbiter over Brown on Saturday evening at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The Big Red moved over .500 for the first time this season at 13-12 (5-3 Ivy), while the Bears slipped to 9-13 (3-5 Ivy).

Senior Johnathan Gray completed an excellent weekend with 18 points and five rebounds, while sophomore Shonn Miller had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Four other players scored between seven and nine points in a balanced attack, with sophomore Galal Cancer posting nine points and four assists without a turnover. Freshman Nolan Cressler chipped in nine points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. The Big Red survived to claim the win despite missing six of its eight free throw attempts in the final 35 seconds. That allowed the Bears to get one good look and a desperation heave in the final five seconds to try and tie the contest.

Brown got 19 points from Sean McGonagill and 13 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks from Cedric Kuakumensah. The Bears held a 41-31 advantage on the glass, but was only able to turn the Big Red over nine times.

The Big Red jumped out to an early lead, staved off a Brown surge and extended the lead back to double figures before going into halftime up 40-29. Gray, as he did so often in Friday night's contest, made a number of big shots to end halftime with 14. Miller also controlled the paint with nine points, four rebounds and three blocks.

Cornell, playing an early 6 p.m. game against a team limited to nine players due to injuries, was able to amp up the pace and jump out to a 19-9 advantage before the Bears chipped away. Brown got within two points, then three. Each time, Gray answered with a 3-pointer. His second started an 11-0 run over just 1:27 that made a 27-24 Big Red advantage a 38-24 edge.

The second half saw the Bears put consistent pressure on Cornell, though it looked as though the Big Red was headed for a solid victory. The visitors held a two possession lead much of the second half before a Matt Sullivan corner 3-pointer made it a one-point game (57-56) with six and a half minutes remaining. A Cornell turnover, one of just nine on the night, turned into a run-out for the Bears, but Miller created a missed layup on one end and then Cancer nailed a 3-pointer on the other to push it back to four. After Brown missed on the other end, Gray extended the lead to seven with four minutes to play.

The Bears were able to claw back within four with 88 seconds to play when Stephen Albrecht hit a trey, and a Cornell turnover and six missed free throws gave the home team a glimmer of hope. But in front of a crowd at the Pizz to honor the 2003 Brown NIT squad, there would be no last-second magic. The Big Red defended Brown's four shooter set on its final possession, trailing 69-66, and forced Albrecht to take a tough challenged shot that fell short. Cornell rebounded with under two seconds to play. Despite missing both free throws, Brown's fullcourt shot fell well short and Cornell walked off the court with the victory.

Cornell returns to action on Friday, Feb. 22 when it returns home to face Penn at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.


Box Score | Box Score

Providence, R.I - Trailing by 11-points at the half, Brown mounted a strong second rally that came up short, falling to Cornell by a 69-66 margin at the Pizzitola Sports Center, snapping a six game home winning streak. Senior guard Johnathan Gray led the Big Red with 18 points, and junior guard Sean McGonagill paced Brown with 19 points.
The loss drops Brown to 9-13 overall, 3-5 in the Ivy League, while Cornell extends its record to 13-12, 5-3 in Ivy play.
Trailing, 69-66, Brown had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but senior Stephen Albrecht's trey with two seconds remaining fell off the mark.
"We can't keep digging ourselves a hole in the first half," said Brown head coach Mike Martin, whose team trailed 40-29 at intermission. "We weren't ready to defend at the outset and it cost us the game."
Bears' freshman center Cedric Kuakumensah turned in his second straight dominating performance, pulling down a career high 19 rebounds, and completing the double-double with 13 points.  He also blocked four shots, and now has 50 blocks for the season, most by a Brown freshman and second overall in Bears' basketball history.
McGonagill's 19 points came on 8-of-14 shooting from the field for the Bears.  He moved into 23rd place on Brown's all-time scoring list, now with 1,029 career points. Brown sophomore Rafael Maia chipped in with nine points.
Gray netted 14 of his 18 points in the opening 20 minutes and connected on 6-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-9 from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore Shonn Miller also scored in double figures with 13 points, while grabbing eight rebounds.
Brown trailed, 24-22, with 4:30 left in the opening half, after a lay-up by senior Matt Sullivan.
Cornell exploded with a 16-7 run to end the half and grab a 40-29 lead after the first 20-minutes.
For the second straight night, Brown clawed its way back into the game and cut the Cornell lead to one point, 57-56, on a Sullivan trey with 6:32 remaining. Cornell answered with consecutive treys by Galal Cancer and Gray to go back up by seven points, 63-56. 
McGonagill's trey with 25-seconds remaining pulled Brown to within two points, 68-66.  Cancer connected on one of two free throws with 18 seconds left to put the Big Red ahead, 69-66.
Brown is back in action again next Friday, February 22, hosting Harvard at the Pizzitola Sports Center.  The game will be televised live on MyRITV starting at 7 pm. The Bears also host Dartmouth on Saturday evening, February 23, at 6pm.

4 comments:

marktwain said...

lack of a viable presence at center almost derailed cornell's impressive road streak

Anonymous said...

FT's - FT's Brown 80% Cornell 60% I'm really glad we won, but why do we have so much trouble (as a team) shooting 80% or better??? It did not need to be that close!

Anonymous said...

Appears no one thought that BigRed would be better this year that they were last year after Wrobo and Ferry graduated but here we are 4-1 on the road in the Ivy. Believe we could be better next year as the Sophmores class develop further and players we haven't seen much from this year step forward

People seem to believe Harvard will be loaded next year and ready to run away with ivy again. Talent does not seem to be our problem just getting the talent on the floor for significant minutes appears to be our problem. With the graduation of the Senior class significant minutes will be available to those who go work to further their athletic abilities during the off season. Who will be dedicated to put the work in when season ends will probably be rewarded with time. Hope this inspires everyone to become better after this season ends no matter what the outcome. Should be be a great nucleus to build around!!!

Anonymous said...

The real test will be at home this weekend, where the team, ironically, seems to be most vulnerable. A weekend sweep would put Cornell in second place, a half game ahead of Princeton.

Hypothetical: If Harvard falls to Princeton the following weekend, Cornell would then control their own destiny. Great to see the team in the thick of things again!