Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cornell Athletics Game Notes for St. Peter's

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Game #12: Saint Peter's at Cornell
Tip off: Saturday, Dec. 28, at 4:00 p.m.
Site: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca, N.Y.
2014-15 Records: Saint Peter's (5-7, 0-2 MAAC); Cornell (6-5, 0-0 Ivy)
Series Record: Saint Peter's leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Saint Peter's won 67-59, Dec. 28, 2013 in Jersey City, N.J.
Radio: 98.7 FM The Buzzer (Barry Leonard)

Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his fifth season at Cornell (43-83, .341; 19-37 Ivy, .339) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher '44 Coach of Men's Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.

STORY LINES: The Cornell men's basketball team will try to stay unbeaten at home and improve to 3-0 against teams from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference when it closes out its 2014 home schedule against Saint Peter's on Sunday, Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network, with Barry Leonard on the call at 98.7 FM The Buzzer.

After spending significant stretches of the season on the road already, the Big Red are nearly ready to settle in at home in front of the Newman Nation crowd for much of the next month. Cornell will play eight of its next 11 games in Ithaca, where it is off to a 3-0 start. Head coach Bill Courtney's team is already one of the most improved in the country, already tripling its win total from a year ago en route to its 6-5 start. Three of its five losses have come by five points or less.

Cornell has already sextupled its win total against Division I teams from a season ago and has the looks of a team on the rebound, playing suffocating defense (.379 field goal percentage defense, .307 3-point percentage defense, 63.2 ppg. allowed, 4.6 blocked shots per game) in its 11 contests. The Big Red has limited foes to under 40 percent shooting in eight of its 11 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 has been especially dominant over his last two games, averaging 27.0 points and 12.0 rebounds with a career scoring high of 28 points at Radford and a best of 15 rebounds at Siena. His season averages of 16.2 ppg., 8.2 rpg., 1.7 bpg. and 1.2 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 (10.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 3.0 apg., 1.2 spg.) after a year away from basketball, the move of senior Devin Cherry to point guard (9.7 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 3.9 apg., 1.1 spg.) and the maturation of sophomores Robert Hatter (13.7 ppg., 2.8 rpg., 1.2 spg.) and David Onuorah (2.7 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 1.5 bpg.). A number of other players have added key minutes as reserves over the first 11 contests. Among them are sophomore guards JoJo Fallas, who has become one of the conference's most dangerous shooters off the bench (eighth in Ivy League in 3-point percentage, .409), and Darryl Smith (4.0 pg., 1.9 rpg.). 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 3.7 ppg. and 4.5 rpg. and have provided leadership on and off the court.

• give the Big Red a 7-5 record on the season and a 5-1 mark in its last six games.
• make Cornell 4-0 at home to open a season for the first time since the 2008-09 season, when it went 13-0 at Newman Arena for the year.
• be the program's first-ever against Saint Peter's (0-2).
• make the Big Red a perfect 3-0 against MAAC teams this season.
• be the 1,218th in program history (1,217-1,357 in 116 seasons, .473).

• The Peacocks bring a 5-7 overall record, including wins over Boston University (70-51) and Princeton (60-46), and a three-point loss to common opponent Canisius (60-57), into Sunday's contest against the Big Red.
• Saint Peter's is coming off a 69-60 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 23, closingthe game on a 14-1 run to wipe out a late deficit.
• Saint Peter's is 2-4 away from home and has lost four of its seven games by three points or less.
• Big man Marvin Dominique, who had 26 points and 13 rebounds last season against the Big Red, paces the team in scoring (15.5 ppg.) and rebounding (8.8 rpg.), while guard Desi Washington (14.8 ppg., 5.2 rpg.) joins him in double figures.
• Five other players average between 4.9 and 8.9 points per game.
• Saint Peter's wins with its defense, allowing opponents to shoot just .399 from the floor overall and .320 from 3-point range. It also are outrebounding its opponents 32.2-31.0.
• Ninth-year head coach John Dunne has led the Peacocks to one MAAC title and NCAA tournament appearance and has coached and/or recruited seven 1,000-point scorers.

• Saint Peter's has won the only two previous meetings between the teams.
• The Peacocks topped Cornell 68-64 in Ithaca two seasons ago and 67-59 in Jersey City, N.J. last year.

• Marvin Dominique scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, including key offensive boards in the second half to stave off a Cornell run, but Saint Peter's was able to hang on for a 67-59 victory on Dec. 28, 2013 at the Yanitelli Center.
Devin Cherry and Nolan Cressler each scored 21 points and combined for 11 rebounds, while the defense held the Peacocks to 37 percent shooting.
• All of that and outrebounding Saint Peter's 34-32 wasn't enough to help Cornell snap an 18-game skid.
• Dominique scored 26 and his five offensive boards were huge, as were the 11 Saint Peter's steals on 14 Cornell turnovers that led to a number of run-out baskets.
• Trevis Wyche and Dei Washington each had 11 points and Wyche added six helpers in the win.
• The Big Red defense came to play in the first half, limiting the Peacocks to 32 percent shooting overall and 22 percent from beyond the arc (2-of-9), but the difference in a three-point half was Dominique.
• The big man had 14 points, nine rebounds, a block and a steal, while also draining his only two 3-point attempts.

• Cornell was 62-52 all-time against current members of the MAAC, including 0-2 against Saint Peter's, heading into a matchup with Siena on Dec. 23.
• The Big Red has also played Canisius (26-17), Fairfield (0-2), Iona (0-2), Manhattan (1-1), Marist (2-3), Niagara (27-20), Quinnipiac (2-2), Rider (3-0) and Siena (1-3 prior to Dec. 23).
• Cornell has never played Monmouth.
• This is the final of three games Cornell is scheduled to play against MAAC schools this season. The Big Red defeated Canisius 67-60 at home on Nov. 26 before visiting Siena on Dec. 23.

• A dominating defensive effort and a pair of 20-point scorers lifted Cornell to its fourth win in five games, running away from Siena after halftime for a 75-57 victory on Dec. 23 at the Times Union Center.
• Two days after scoring a career-high 28 points at Radford, Shonn Miller scored 26 points and grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds to lead the Big Red.
• Sophomore Robert Hatter also scored 21 points, including hitting 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
• As a team, Cornell hit an impressive 25-of-28 from the charity stripe.
• Cornell held Siena to 31 percent shooting overall, including 27 percent after halftime, and 25 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (5-of-20).
• After struggling on the offensive end over the first 20 minutes, Cornell improved upon its defensive effort while hitting 64 percent of its shots after halftime, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc after going 0-for-6 in the first half.
Galal Cancer, playing in front of family and friends in the arena where he won a state title at Christian Brothers Academy, had five points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot in just 14 minutes before fouling out.
• Siena got 18 points from Evan Hymes, while Javion Ogunyemi had 12 and Ryan Oliver notched 10.
• The Saints' leading scorers, Rob Poole (2-of-12 shooting) and Marquis Wright (1-of-5 shooting), were held to just six points each, with Miller doing a lion's share of the work on Poole and both Hatter and Smith defending Wright.

• The Big Red is limiting opponents to .379 shooting over its first 11 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 eight of its first 11 opponents under 40 percent shooting.
• Over the team's last three games, Cornell is shooting an outstanding .892 from the free-throw line (58-of-65).
• The Big Red has posted two of the top nine free-throw shooting percentage efforts in school history over the first 11 games. Cornell tied a school record with a 13-for-13 effort (one of eight perfect nights with at least 10 attempts) against UMass Lowell and had the best day with a miss in going 21-of-22 for .955 against Penn State. Ironically, Cornell has shot under 50 percent from the free-throw line in two other games this season.
• 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. That mark didn't last long, as the Big Red dropped Siena by 17 (75-58) in Albany 17 days later.
• 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 118 to his name.
• Miller had three steals at Radford, pushing his career total to 101. He became the first player in Cornell history to post 100 career steals and 100 career blocks.
• Miller is averaging 27.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in his last two contests.
• Sophomore Robert Hatter is averaging 19.0 points in his last three games.
• In his last four contests, senior Galal Cancer is averaging 5.8 assists. Entering the Binghamton game, Cancer had just 10 total assists in his first seven games.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 then hit 10 in its next game against UMass Lowell.

• The Big Red will end the 2014 calendar season at Syracuse on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

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