Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cornell Athletics' and UMass-Lowell Athletics' Game Notes for Big Red vs. River Hawks

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Game #9: UMass-Lowell at Cornell
Tip off: Saturday, Dec. 6, at 4:00 p.m.
Site: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca, N.Y.
2014-15 Records: UMass-Lowell (5-2, 0-0 America East); Cornell (4-4, 0-0 Ivy)
Series Record: First-ever meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Radio: 98.7 FM The Buzzer (Barry Leonard, Eric Taylor '05)

Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his fifth season at Cornell (41-82, .333; 19-37 Ivy, .339) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher '44 Coach of Men's Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.

Cornell will look to build on its two-game win streak and remain unbeaten at home when it takes on UMass-Lowell on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. at Newman Arena. Live video is available on the Ivy League Digital Network, while Barry Leonard and Eric Taylor '05 will have the call in the Ithaca area on 98.7 FM The Buzzer.

Cornell has won consecutive games for the first time in nearly a season and a half, topping Canisius and Binghamton in succession. That has been part of a strong opening to the 2014-15 campaign. Three of the Big Red's four losses have come by a total of eight points - despite that, Cornell has played some excellent basketball as it looks to turn the page on last season's 2-26 record. The Big Red already owns a road win over George Mason, its largest comeback win in more than 15 years in storming back to knock off Colgate and a solid win over Canisius, a team that won 21 games a season ago. Cornell owned double figure second half leads in narrow losses to both Penn State and Drexel and is a handful of possessions from entering the weekend 6-2 or 7-1 instead of 4-4.

Cornell has already quadrupled its win total against Division I teams from a season ago and has the looks of a team on the rebound, playing suffocating defense (.373 field goal percentage defense, .306 3-point percentage defense, 63.0 ppg. allowed, 5.6 blocked shots per game) in its eight contests. The Big Red has limited foes to under 40 percent shooting in six of its eight games.

The biggest difference from last year is the return of first-team All-Ivy selection Shonn Miller, who missed the 2013-14 season with a shoulder injury. The 6-7 forward returned with a bang, recording 21 points and 13 rebounds in the upset of George Mason and collecting 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals at Loyola (MD). His season averages of 13.3 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 1.8 bpg. and 1.0 spg. make him an early contender for Ivy League honors.

Other big differences in Cornell's quick turnaround include the return of senior Galal Cancer (12.0 ppg., 3.5 rpg., 2.3 apg., 1.3 spg.) after a year away from basketball, the move of senior Devin Cherry to point guard (10.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 4.4 apg., 1.0 spg.) and the maturation of sophomores Robert Hatter (11.8 ppg., 2.9 rpg., 1.3 spg.) and David Onuorah (3.5 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 1.4 bpg.). A number of other players have added key minutes as reserves over the first eight contests. Among them are sophomore guards JoJo Fallas, who has become one of the conference's most dangerous shooters off the bench (fourth in Ivy league in 3-point percentage, .476), and Darryl Smith. Together with the starting trio, the five make for one of the most talented and deepest backcourts in the Ancient Eight. The senior big man trio of Deion Giddens, Dave LaMore and Ned Tomic are combining to average 3.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg. and 0.9 bpg. and have provided leadership on and off the court.

• give the Big Red a 5-4 record on the season.
• make Cornell 3-0 in home games for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign.
• give the Big Red a win over the River Hawks in the first-ever meeting between the programs.
• give the Big Red its first three-game win streak since topping Dartmouth, Yale and Brown from Feb. 10-16, 2013.
• be the 1,216th in program history (1,215-1,356 in 116 seasons, .473).

• UMass-Lowell entered Wednesday's home game with NJIT, a second meeting this season with the Highlanders, with a 5-2 record and a five-game win streak.
• The second-year Division I program has posted wins over Sacred Heart (57-54), NJIT (63-61), Fordham (64-57), Mount Ida (102-57) and Boston University (69-59).
• The River Hawks opened the season with road losses to Ohio State and Rhode Island.
• Jahad Thomas (15.3 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) is the team's lone double figure scorer, though Lance Crawford (9.3 ppg.), Marco Banegas-Flores (8.7 ppg.) and Tyler Livingston (7.9 ppg.) are among the six players scoring 6.0 points per game or better.
• Defense has been UMass-Lowell's calling card, forcing opponents to shoot .438 from the floor and .309 from the 3-point arc while forcing 14 turnovers per contest.
• Second-year head coach Pat Duquette led the River Hawks to a 10-18 season in his first year and went 9-7 in its last 16 games.

• This is the first-ever meeting between Cornell and UMass-Lowell, which is in its second season as a Division I school.

• Cornell is 20-23 all-time against current members of the America East and will be playing UMass-Lowell for the first time.
• The Big Red has also faced Albany (2-3), Binghamton (8-3), Hartford (0-3), Maine (0-1), New Hampshire (1-3), Stony Brook (4-4) and Vermont (5-6).
• Cornell has never played UMBC.

• UMass-Lowell is the 250th different opponent Cornell has met on the hardwood in school history.
• The Big Red is limiting opponents to 37 percent shooting over its first eight games. In all, Cornell recorded a .495 field goal percentage defense mark in 2013-14 and allowed opponents to shoot 50 percent or better 15 times in 28 games. It has held six of its first eight opponents under 40 percent shooting.
• After finishing eighth in the conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense a year ago, the Big Red stands fourth (63.0 ppg.), second (.373) and third (.306), respectively, in those categories this season.
• Those numbers are even better in the team's last two games, limiting opponents to 57-of-166 shooting from the floor overall (.343) and 13-of-53 from 3-point range (.245).
• A win would allow the Big Red to surpass .500 on the season (5-4), the latest in a season Cornell has posted a winning record since it was 13-12 after 25 games during the 2012-13 campaign.
• The rally from a 17-point deficit against Colgate was the largest overcome by a Big Red team this century. It is the largest overcome by a Bill Courtney-coached team, besting the 14-point first half deficit it rallied from in an 85-84 win over Yale on Feb. 10, 2012.
• Senior Shonn Miller blocked a pair of shots against George Mason to surpass the 100 career block milestone. He became the fifth player in Cornell history to reach that plateau and now has 113 to his name.
• Miller is one of three Ivy League players to rank in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, joining other Player of the Year candidates Wesley Saunders of Harvard and Justin Sears of Yale.
• When Cornell knocked off George Mason, the Big Red defeated its 35th program that has advanced to an NCAA Final Four. The Patriots reached the national semifinals in 2006.
• Sophomore guard JoJo Fallas scored 34 points over the last six games (5.7 per game), including 9-of-19 from 3-point range. He entered the stretch with six career points and was 0-of-8 from beyond the arc.
• Senior Dave LaMore has been a spark over the last five games, ripping down 17 rebounds, scoring 12 points and blocking four shots in 79 minutes (6.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per 40 minutes).
• Sophomore Darryl Smith is averaging 7.0 points, 2.7 rebounds while shooting 71 percent from the floor (5-of-7), 100 percent from 3-point range (3-of-3) and 89 percent from the line (8-of-9). He entered the stretch averaging 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest.
• The Big Red hit 11 3-pointers in the win at Binghamton, the most in a game since hitting 16 in an 83-70 loss at Western Michigan on Nov. 29, 2013.
• Cornell's 14-point margin of victory over Binghamton (68-54) was its largest in a road game under head coach Bill Courtney and the most by any Cornell team since a 79-59 victory at Yale on March 6, 2010.

• Cornell rained 3-pointers in the first half, then relied on its defense to make sure Binghamton didn't repeat last season's result with a 68-54 Big Red victory at the Events Center on Nov. 29.
• Sophomore Robert Hatter scored 14 points to lead a balanced effort on the offensive end.
• Seniors Devin Cherry (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) and Shonn Miller (11 points, 11 rebounds) also reached double figures.
• Cornell hit 11-of-25 from beyond the arc, including a 9-of-17 effort in the first half.
• The Big Red defense continued to be the story, however, limiting the home team to 36 percent shooting (33 percent in the second half) with a 38-33 advantage on the glass.
• The tandem of senior big men Dave LaMore and Ned Tomic made big contributions off the bench with a combined 14 points and seven rebounds to give the Big Red balance, while senior Galal Cancer had six points and a career-best eight assists.
• Sophomore JoJo Fallas hit two of Cornell's 11 3-pointers to become the seventh player on the roster to score between six and 14 points in the win.
• Yosef Yacob led Binghamton with 15 points and Romello Walker had 10 points and seven rebounds.
• A year ago, Cornell led Binghamton by 16 points with 10 minutes to play and watched the Bearcats win in regulation by 10.
• This season, the Big Red led by 15 points with 10 minutes remaining.
• That's where the similarities ended. There was no such comeback as the Big Red continued to show it's a new year.

• After a 15-day break for final exams, Cornell returns to action with games at Radford (Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.) and Siena (Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.).
• The Big Red returns home to face Saint Peter's on Sunday, Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. at Newman Arena.

Wednesday, December 3 vs. NJIT (7 p.m.)
Game Notes | Preview Video | Watch Live | Listen Live | Live Stats | Buy Tickets
Follow on Twitter: @RiverHawkNation @RiverHawkMBB

Saturday, December 6 at Cornell University (4:30 p.m.)
Watch Live | Listen Live | Live Stats | Buy Tickets
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River Hawk Radio Network: (900AM, 1250AM, WCAP 980AM, WSMN 1590AM)
Talent: Nick Anastos (Play by Play); Jim Borodawka (Analyst)

LOWELL, Mass. –
The UMass Lowell men's basketball team will play a pair of games this week, hosting NJIT on Wednesday, December 3 at 7 p.m. before visiting Cornell University on Saturday, Dec. 6 for a 4:30 p.m. tilt.

The River Hawks (5-2) return home to host NJIT in the midst of a five-game win streak. The team looks to defend its longest unbeaten streak as a Division I program and its most consecutive victories since 2011-12. Last week, UMass Lowell earned a 102-57 victory in its home opener against Mount Ida on November 25 before defeating Boston University, 69-59, on the road on Nov. 30.

Redshirt-freshman Jahad Thomas (Williamsport, Pa.) posted a personal-best 21 points with five rebounds to lead UMass Lowell to a 69-59 victory at Boston University on Sunday afternoon. Thomas was aided by two other double-digit scorers in the outing, as junior Mark Cornelius (Westford, Mass.) and senior Chad Holley (New York, N.Y.) logged 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Terriers battled the whole way, pulling within as few as three points, four times, in the waning minutes of the outing, including at 60-57 with less than one minute to play, but the River Hawks held on to secure the decision.

Through seven games, Jahad Thomas leads the River Hawks with 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Freshman Lance Crawford (Davie, Fla.) and graduate student Marco Banegas-Flores (Boston, Mass.) have added to the offensive effort with 9.3 and 8.7 points, respectively, while sophomore Tyler Livingston averages 7.9 points of his own. Redshirt-senior Kerry Weldon (New York, N.Y.) is second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game. As a team, UMass Lowell is shooting 43.9% (163-371) from the floor and 36.6% (52-142) from beyond the arc. The squad is also shooting 63.8% (88-138) from the line.

The Highlanders enter their second matchup with the River Hawks in 11 days with a 2-4 record. Following the 63-61 defeat at the hands of UMass Lowell, NJIT lost to Marquette, before ending its three-game skid with a win against Duquesne. Damon Lynn paces the offense with 17.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. Ky Howard has chipped in 12.8 points per game, along with 7.2 rebounds. Lynn leads the team with 23-of-66 shooting from three-point range, as well. Odera Nweke leads the team with eight blocks. The Highlanders are shooting 41.9% (130-310) from the field, and are 33.6% (44-131) from long range.

The Big Red is looking to extend a two-game win streak that has propelled the team to 4-4 overall in 2014-15. In its most recent outing, Cornell defeated Binghamton, 68-64, on Nov. 29. Four players are averaging double-digits, inclduding Shonn Miller with a team-best 13.3 points per game. Galai Cancer, Robert Hatter and Devin Cherry add 12.0, 11.8 and 10.6 points, respectively. Cherry leads the team with 4.4 assists per game, while Miller averages 7.6 rebounds. Cornell is shooting 40.7% (167-410) from the floor, including 33.1% (51-154) from beyond the arc.

As a team, UMass Lowell has shot more than 50% from the floor for two consecutive games, moving into third in the league for field goal percentage (43.9%).

Four of the squad's five wins so far have been decided by 10 points or less. The team even trailed in the second half in three of those games (at NJIT, Fordham and BU) before battling back to earn the victories.

Despite being picked ninth in the 2014-15 America East Preseason Coaches Poll, the River Hawks have steadily climbed in the standings and are currently tied for first overall. The squad proved the polls wrong last season, as well, when they were also selected ninth out of nine teams, but finished their first season in the league in fifth place with an 8-8 record.

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