Sunday, January 18, 2015

Game Recap: Columbia 48, Cornell 45

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell had two shots in the final seconds to tie or take the lead, but Columbia was able to hold on for a 48-45 victory in the Ivy League opener on Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena. The Big Red slipped to 8-9 (0-1 Ivy), while the Lions moved to 9-6 (1-0).

The Big Red got 17 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists and a tremendous defensive effort from sophomore Robert Hatter, but the Lions held the home team to 25 percent shooting on the day overall and 24 percent from beyond the arc to sneak home with the victory. Hatter held Maodo Lo, the Ivy League's leading scorer, scoreless for the first time in 53 games. In all, Cornell forced 23 Columbia turnovers, including two keys ones in the final 30 seconds that allowed the Big Red to complete a rally from down 12 in the second half to a one-point game.

Shonn Miller, who entered the contest tied with Lo as the conference's top scorer, was held to eight points with four rebounds and four steals and Devin Cherry notched nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Big Red had nine steals that helped the team score 21 points off turnovers.

Kyle Castlin led Columbia with 12 points and both Jeff Coby and Steve Frankoski had 10 apiece. Isaac Cohen notched a game-high 10 rebounds and Coby added nine as the Lions held a 36-29 edge on the backboards.

Columbia scored the game's first six points and didn't get on the board until Darryl Smith hit a free throw 5:15 into the game. The Lions kept hanging around, getting a JoJo Fallas 3-pointer to cut a six-point deficit in half, followed by a Pat Smith trey with nine minutes remaining in the half to get within 12-9.

The Lions put some separation with a 7-0 run to extend it to 19-9 after Frankoski hit a jumper with just under six minutes remaining, but Cornell had one last run in it. Hatter hit a 3-pointer, then drew a foul and made all three free throws to cut the Columbia deficit to 19-15. A late 8-2 run by the visitors, including a layup by Isaac Cohen just before the buzzer, sent the Lions into the break leading 27-17.

Cornell saw Columbia extend its lead to as many as 12 on three occasions before roaring back. Miller, who had been scoreless on the day, hit a jumper, then nailed a 3-pointer in the span of 45 seconds to narrow a 39-27 deficit to 39-32. Two minutes later Cherry hit a jumper off a feed from Miller and then Miller got out on the break for a vicious dunk to get Cornell within 39-36 with eight minutes remaining.

Columbia calmly grew the lead back to eight after a Frankoski 3-pointer. After a slow four minutes of missed opportunities for the Big Red, Cornell made a furious rally in the final 63 seconds. Down five points, Cherry hit a free throw. Cory Osetkowski answered on the other end with a step-through layup, but Hatter again drew a foul on a shot from beyond the arc. He hit all three charity shots to make it 46-43 Columbia with 20 seconds later.

The Big Red got a missed free throw, but couldn't corral the rebound. Without having to foul again, Hatter deflected pass for a steal and went coast-to-coast to make it a 46-45 Columbia edge with 18 seconds left.

Again, Cornell's defense stiffened and forced a Columbia turnover on the inbounds with 16 seconds remaining. Miller used his dribble to get into the lane and find Cancer, who rimmed out the short jumper. Columbia rebounded and made two free throws, giving the Big Red one last chance to tie the game with six seconds. Devin Cherry took the inbounds pass and beat his defender down the court, but his 3-point attempt fell short as the horn sounded.

The two teams will square off next Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Jeff Coby clenched his fists, flexed his arms, and stared up at the Newman Arena fans.
“Yeah,” he shouted for everyone to hear. “This is our court.”
His assist to Cory Osetkowski put Columbia up by six with 39 seconds to play, and the surrounding silence was a shrewd reminder that the Lions were far from their home court. His cry was to celebrate a game that felt over, but three free throws, two turnovers, and a defensive lapse later, and that comfortable lead was slashed to one. His celebratory shot had been premature, but the slim lead proved to be just enough for Columbia.
“A court is a court,” Coby said after the game, an inescapable grin on his face. “Two rims, same 3-point line, everything. We just want to own every court that we come on.”
Columbia bent on Saturday. It bent every time it built its lead, only to see it shrink. But the Lions never broke, holding on in its Ivy League opener, 48-45 over Cornell on Saturday at Newman Arena. After piecing together a 12-point second half lead with under 12 minutes to play, the Lions didn’t score for more than five minutes. But still, Columbia led for 40 minutes, despite playing far from a complete 40-minute game.
“I don’t know how we pulled it off,” Lions head coach Kyle Smith said. “You know, we practice this stuff all week, situations, you know what you gotta do on the road. And we just struggled in those situations.”
After Osetkowski gave Columbia a 46-40 lead, the Big Red wasted no time in getting the ball to Robert Hatter, who continued his 17-point night by hitting three free throws off a foul from behind the 3-point line.
Isaac Cohen missed a 1-and-1 on the other end of the floor, Columbia recovered the ball, only to lose it on an out-of-bounds play. Hatter scored on the offensive end of the court, and then the Cornell pressure defense forced another turnover with 16 seconds to play and the Big Red trailing by one.
But the Lions forced Galal Cancer into a contested jumper, Steve Frankoski hit two free throws, Smith — who had moaning, groaning and clutching his face all night — pumped his fist twice and the Lions grabbed a win that very well could have gone the other way.
“I didn’t have any doubt,” Kyle Castlin said. “When we got the stop I was happy. When Franko took free throws, I knew he was going to knock ‘em down.”
On a night when Maodo Lo, the Lions’ best scorer only took two shots and had no points, and had two fouls just two minutes into the game, it fell on the shoulders of the supporting cast to provide just enough offense to let its defense steal the show.
The Big Red didn’t hit a shot for the first nine minutes, and had only 13 field goals for the game. Even though the Lions offense played a game of Jeckyl and Hyde, their defense proved that point moot.
After the Lions won their Ivy opener last season, Smith said conference wins are like gold. After Saturday’s win, he was flustered, out of breath, but unmistakably happy to start the season off 1-0 with a little gold going into its rematch with Cornell next Saturday.
“All you can do is practice, and they gotta believe,” Smith said. “I’m just proud of the guys, they hung in there. They battled…We gotta get better for next week.”

Men’s basketball opened conference play with a road win Saturday, topping Cornell in an ugly, low-scoring affair, 48-45.
Both teams struggled mightily on the offensive end. Columbia (9-6, 1-0 Ivy) finished with 23 turnovers, while Cornell (8-9, 0-1 Ivy) shot just 25 percent from the floor. Junior guard Maodo Lo, the Lions’ leading scorer, was held scoreless amid foul trouble, and Cornell’s star forward, Shonn Miller, had just eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
“Obviously we struggled a little bit handling the pressure, but we persevered, we hung in there,” Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said. “Both teams feel it a little bit—I think Cornell felt it—it’s just there’s a lot of pressure when you start the league, when you go into league. So I think that showed up a little bit.”
With Lo struggling, sophomore guard Kendall Jackson picked up some of the slack, logging eight points on a perfect 3-for-3 performance from the field.
“We need the ball handling obviously, and the shooting, and he’s been a good defender for us,” Smith said. “Gave our team life, separated early, got us out to a good start, good lead. And then he had the big two in the second half, big pull up.”
While neither team was firing on all cylinders, the Lions jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a bucket by sophomore forward Jeff Coby and a pair of layups by first-year guard Kyle Castlin.
The Big Red, meanwhile, had even more difficulty scoring early on. Cornell’s first field goal came at the 10:51 mark in the first half, making the score 9-6, Columbia.
But Jackson responded with a three for the Lions on their next possession to double the lead, and after Cornell struck back with another triple, senior guard Steve Frankoski connected from long range to once again extend the Light Blue’s lead to six.
Columbia cruised for the rest of the opening frame, and entered the break with a solid 27-17 lead.
The Lions maintained a healthy advantage early in the second half, but a three by Cornell forward Shonn Miller with 10:40 to play triggered a run that allowed the home team to get back in the game.
After a jumper by guard Devin Cherry, Miller got out in transition and hammered home a two-handed dunk to cut Columbia’s lead to three, 39-36, with 7:51 remaining.
Thanks in large part to the Lions’ continued offensive sloppiness down the stretch, the Big Red stayed in the game. Though Cornell never led, it came close to snatching away a victory in the game’s waning seconds.
With 20 seconds remaining, Big Red guard Robert Hatter got a steal and a layup on the other end, cutting Columbia’s lead to one. The Light Blue looked to be in trouble after turning it over on its next possession, but Cornell was unable to take advantage as guard Galal Cancer could connect on the go-ahead jumper.
A pair of free throws by Frankoski put Columbia back up by three, and the Lions were able to hold on for the win.
“We’ve lost that game before, I know that much, against Stony Brook. We’ve still got to learn how to close out tight ones,” Smith said. “Certain guys got want the ball in those situations.”
The Lions will return home next weekend with a chance to earn a season sweep of Cornell for the second year in a row.

Columbia Bad, Cornell Worse In Basketball Win

The men’s basketball team in light blue that showed up in Ithaca today was not the same team that went blow-for-blow with #1 Kentucky. Thankfully, they didn’t have to be against a Cornell squad that showed shades of its abysmal performances last year. Led by first-year Kyle Castlin’s 12 points, the Lions defeated the Big Red, 48-45.
The early story of the game revolved around Maodo Lo. Within the first minute, he notched a defensive foul attempting to stop a lay-up. One minute later, he was called for a questionable charge on his way to the basket. Shackled by foul trouble, Lo stayed off the court for most of the first half. He was on the court at the beginning of the second stanza, but was called for a third foul in the first minute while battling for a loose ball. Lo would finish the game with zero points and five turnovers in his 17 minutes of play. Columbia lost two games earlier this season when Lo was shut down against St. Francis (NY) and Stony Brook. But thankfully, on the other side of the court, Cornell’s leading scorer Shonn Miller was just as impotent. Despite staying out of foul trouble, the Big Red forward was scoreless in the first half and finished the game with eight points.
For the Lions, it was once again the bench to the rescue. 5’8” sophomore guard Kendall Jackson nailed a pair of three-pointers early to get the Lions into rhythm without Lo directing the offense. Senior guard Steve Frankoski was just as good, continuing his powerful streak of shooting threes in rhythm. Also making an appearance from beyond the arc was sophomore forward Jeff Coby, who knocked down two treys, despite three-pointers accounting for about 20% of his career attempts from the field. Handling the drives to the basket was Kyle Castlin, performing double duty in the paint for the fouled-out Lo and the struggling Cory Osetkowski.
But even with other players stepping up, Columbia ran into huge trouble as a team with its ball control. The Lions turned the ball over 23 times throughout the game, and while that didn’t lead to many points for the Big Red (who shot just 25% on the game and 16% in the first half), it was responsible for the Lions’ low score despite a 44% field goal percentage. Columbia looked sloppy in a way they haven’t yet this season. The full court and high ball pressure brought by Cornell stymied the light blue team, as it has all year. Players seemed out of sync in their passes and downright silly at times against an admittedly strong Big Red defense. But the unforced turnovers turned a game that ought to have been a cakewalk into a hot contest. The Big Red’s shooting woes were far greater than could be attributed to just the Lions’ defense.
Columbia led by 10 points at halftime and led by 12 after the first media timeout in the second half, but as Shonn Miller heated up, Columbia’s lead dwindled. They maintained a precarious lead into the final moments of the game. Up by six with under a minute to play, Noah Springwater fouled Cornell’s Robert Hatter during a three-point attempt. He made all three free throws, and Columbia turned the ball over on the next possession, quickly leading to a Cornell basket. With 16 seconds to play, Springwater inbounded the ball to Frankoski, who couldn’t handle it and kicked it out of bounds. Cornell was unable to score on the ensuing position and had to foul Frankoski, who narrowly hit both free throws to bolster the lead back to three, where it would stay for the end of the game.
The Lions cannot play this poorly if they expect to contend in the 14 Game Tournament that is the Ivy League regular season. More than anything else, Cornell’s offensive inability won the game for Columbia. This win puts the Lions to 1-0 on the Ivy slate, tying them with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, who all won games against their travel partners (Dartmouth, Brown, and Penn, respectively). Expect both Columbia and Cornell to come out with a vengeance next Saturday at Levien, as the Big Red tries to protect itself from a nearly insurmountable 0-2 conference record and the Lions attempt to put themselves into contention for the Ivy Crown.

BOX SCORE (.html) | BOX SCORE (.pdf)
ITHACA, N.Y. – The Columbia men’s basketball team held off a late Cornell rally to pick up a dramatic, 48-45, win to open up Ivy League play. The Lions (9-6, 1-0) prevailed despite the Big Red holding Maodo Lo scoreless and turning the ball over 23 times.
Sophomore Jeff Coby played a key role in limiting the Big Red’s (8-9, 0-1) top scoring threat Shonn Miller to just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting for the game, while scoring 10 points and grabbing nine boards.
Kyle Castlin had a team-high 12 points and Isaac Cohen pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Big Red (8-9, 0-1) held the Lions to just one field goal over the final six minutes and forced a myriad of turnovers to get back into the contest. Columbia’s defense also was up to the task, maintaining a two-possession lead until Robert Hatter was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 29 seconds to play, cutting the deficit to 46-43.
On the other end, the Lions came up empty and another miscue led to Hatter scoring off a layup with 18 seconds. Columbia threw the ball out of bounds on the ensuing inbounds play to give it back to Cornell. Galal Cancer misfired from the short corner and Frankoski extended the margin back up to three after two free throws with six seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Devin Cherry launched a 30-footer from the top of the key that rimmed out as time expired to give the Lions the victory.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start offensively, but the Lions went in front 6-0 on a backdoor layup by Kyle Castlin with 15:07 left in the half. The Big Red missed their first 10 shots from the floor, but hit a trio of free throws and Columbia turnovers kept the game close.
Cornell’s JoJo Fallas finally broke the drought with a 3-pointer at the 10:51 mark to make it 9-6 in favor of the Lions. However, Kendall Jackson answered with a trey of his own to halt the Big Red’s momentum.
A 7-0 spurt gave the Lions a 19-9 advantage with 5:46 before halftime. Robert Hatter netted six-straight to make it a three-point ballgame just over two minutes later, but Columbia’s press break helped them get transition buckets as they took a 27-17 lead into the break.
The second half was much of the same with teams struggling to get baskets to fall, allowing the Lions to remain in front by as many as 12 on several occasions. With the score 39-27 in favor of Columbia, Miller finally got on the board with seven points during a 9-0 run to pull his squad within three at the 7:51 marker.
A Lo steal led to a fast-break layup for Castlin to end the rally and Steve Frankoski buried a triple from the right wing to make it 44-36 with 6:01 on the clock before Cornell’s frantic comeback bid.
The Lions held Cornell to 25 percent shooting from the field and outrebounded the Big Red, 36-28.
Hatter led all scorers with 17 points.
Columbia completes its home-and-home series with Cornell next Saturday, January 24 in Levien Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.  Tickets are still available for the game and can be purchased by clicking here. Fans can also catch the action live on the Ivy League Digital Network.


Anonymous said...

It is really mind-boggling to me that Shonn Miller, a dominant inside offensive player seemed to spend the majority of the offensive possessions vs Columbia floating near the 3 point line or hoisting 3s. We rarely fed him in the post and he did not have as single offensive rebound.

He is certainly not Ryan Wittman. Can someone explain that offensive strategy??

Anonymous said...

Cornell's offense, especially versus man to man defense, has been abysmal for 5 years. The criticism is more vocal and widespread this year only because the perceived savior, Miller, has now joined his teammates in jacking up threes whenever he wants at a 25% clip. But, it's not their fault. The reason that Miller and so many others either jack up threes or force garbage off the dribble is because those are the only shots they can get out of Cornell's YMCA offense. It also goes to show how no program in any conference can build a winning culture without the right leadership. The message sent by Nolan Cressler's decision to transfer should finally be loud and clear.

BigRed1965 said...

This one hurt. Cornell had an abysmal first half, yet the defense was quite good overall. Cancer and D. Smith need to step up. They have the talent. A wonderful all-around game by Robert Hatter. -- At least the women opened up the Ivy campaign with an easy 59-39 win.

Anonymous said...

It is unfathomable to me that Shonn Miller, a monster inside, spends the majority of our offensive possessions floating around the three point line. As a result he had NO offensive rebounds. He is hardly Ryan Wittman after all!!

Can someone explain that strategy?? To me is seems a real indictment of Bill Courtney's gamesmanship.

Old Grad said...

You would think when the outside shooting was as bad as it was this game, that the coach might have tried to get the ball into the post for Shonn or David to try and get some points. The only consistent outside threat was Robert. Let him shoot and crash the boards with four people. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Anonymous said...

I do notice that when Shonn Miller does shoot a 3, nobody goes to the Boards but, rather, automatically retreats on defense. So no chance for an offensive rebound.