Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ithaca Journal Previews St. Peter's at Cornell

The Cornell men's basketball team will look to once again successfully defend its home turf when it takes on Saint Peter's University of New Jersey at 2 p.m. Sunday at Newman Arena.
The Big Red (6-5 overall) has won all three of its home games thus far in 2014-15, most recently a 71-60 defeat of UMass-Lowell on Dec. 6. Coach Bill Courtney's squad has won four of its last five overall, including a 75-57 win at Siena on Tuesday. The Red saw its three-game win streak come to an end last Sunday at Radford, 74-61.
Saint Peter's (5-7 overall, 0-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) will be the third MAAC school Cornell has faced this season, with the Red registering wins over Canisius (67-60 on Nov. 26) and Siena. The Peacocks are coming off Tuesday's 69-60 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson, in which they scored 13 of the game's last 14 points over the final three minutes to secure the victory.
Cornell is shooting for its first winning season since the "Sweet 16" campaign of 2009-10, and has made a good first few steps in that direction. Leading the charge so far has been 6-7 senior forward Shonn Miller, who's scoring 16.2 points per game and has been nearly eight points better than that in his last three, with games of 18 against UMass-Lowell, a career-high 28 at Radford and 26 at Siena. He also grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in the win Tuesday over the Saints.
Also factoring heavily in the Red's resurgence is senior shooting guard Galal Cancer (10.5 ppg., 3.8 rebounds per game), who like Miller missed all of last season, when the Red won just twice in 28 games. Sophomore guard Robert Hatter is second on the team in scoring (13.5 ppg.) and senior Devin Cherry (9.7 ppg., 3.9 assists per game) has adjusted well to the point guard's role.
Saint Peter's will be looking for its third win in as many tries over Cornell; the Peacocks won two years ago in Ithaca, 68-64, then held the Red off last year in Jersey City, N.J., 67-59. Coach John Dunne's squad is led by 6-7 senior Marvin Dominique (15.5 ppg., 8.8 rpg.), who had 26 points and 13 boards last year against Cornell.
Other leaders for the Peacocks include senior guard Desi Washington (14.8 ppg.) and 6-4 senior forward Tyler Gaskins (8.9 ppg.).
Ninth-year coach Dunne is a 1992 graduate of Ithaca College, where he was a four-year letter-winner and still ranks in the top five all-time at IC in career assists (376) and steals (168).
Both Saint Peter's and Cornell have played stifling defense thus far. Saint Peter's has limited its opponents to 39.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 32 percent from beyond the 3-point arc; Cornell's opponents are shooting 37.9 percent, including 30.7 percent from long range.
After hosting the Peacocks, Cornell will wrap up the 2014 portion of its schedule in the Carrier Dome on New Year's Eve against Syracuse (7-4), in a 6 p.m. tip-off. The Red will travel to Buffalo next Saturday to face the Bulls, then play seven of its next eight at Newman Arena, beginning with games against Howard (7-7) and Division III Alfred State (2-9) to wrap up its non-conference schedule.

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