Sunday, January 25, 2015

GAME RECAP: Cornell 57, Columbia 47

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Cornell's defense, so active all season in putting together the nation's top turnaround, put together a masterpiece on Saturday evening at a packed Levien Gymnasium. This time, the offense did its part and the result was a season split with Columbia, knocking off the Lions 57-47 on Saturday evening. Cornell improved to 9-9 (1-1 Ivy) with the victory, while the Lions slipped to 9-7 (1-1 Ivy).

Cornell limited the Lions to 33 percent shooting, including 24 percent from 3-point range, held the home team to one field goal in the first eight minutes of the second half, posted nine blocked shots and stole six passes. Columbia only stayed in the game thanks to its ability to offensive rebound, picking up 19 errant shots off the glass.

The Big Red, meanwhile, hit on 45 percent of their shots on the night and nine different players hit the scoring column. Shonn Miller led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and two assists and all but closed off the lane. Galal Cancer chipped in 16 points, Devin Cherry notched nine points and freshman Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof had a productive three minutes with five points, including a key 3-pointer, and a blocked shot. The nine blocks on the night rank seventh in a single game in Cornell history.

Columbia's Maodo Lo scored 11 points, but was harassed into 4-of-16 shooting and four turnovers in 37 minutes after going scoreless against the BIg Red last weekend. Isaac Cohen had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal while hitting 6-of-10 shots from the floor. Aside from Cohen, the rest of the Lions connected on just 13-of-48 shots (.271). Cory Osetkowski had a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.

Columbia was limited to 27 percent shooting after halftime, allowing zero points in the first 6:53 and just one field goal over 8:24 to begin the second stanza. The Lions twice cut a six-point deficit to four and once to three (35-32 with 10:44), but Abdur-Ra'oof triggered the run that put enough separation between the teams. He blocked a shot, then got to the line after a Ned Tomic offensive board. He nailed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to force a Columbia timeout. The home team would only briefly get back within single digits after a Devin Cherry basket made it 44-34 with 5:51 left.

LaMore's crazy tip-in at the half sent the visitors into the break with a 27-25 lead behind a monster half by Miller. The senior had 11 points, four rebounds, three blocks and an assist as part of a team defensive effort that held the Lions starters to 6-of-20 shooting and just 40 percent overall. Cancer added seven points and Cherry had five.

The tip-in, coming off a Darryl Smith 3-pointer with two seconds to play, clearly beat the buzzer, which was confirmed by the review. That sent the Big Red into the half with its biggest lead of the night after seeing the Lions take a lead that grew to as many as six points midway through the half.

Five straight points by Cancer kept Cornell in it early, and Miller closed late. He scored all 11 of his points in the final 11 minutes of the first half.

A week after Columba went to Ithica and defeated Cornell to open Ivy League play the Big Red came down to Morningside Heights and returned the favor. The Lions offense looks completely lost in a 57-47 loss that dropped Columbia to 1-1 on the young Ivy season.
The loss hurt all the more because Dartmouth upset Harvard earlier in the day. It also left Yale sitting all alone atop the Ivy League standings, at least for now, thanks to the Bulldogs’ victory over Brown.
Cornell held Columbia to 0.87 points per possession on offense by employing the strategy that has now become the common antidote for busting the Lions’ attack: Defend Maodo Lo hard. Despite first half foul trouble the Big Red relentlessly attacked Lo with double teams off the dribble. When David Onuorah was in the game the defense would extend those double teams out as far as the mid-court line. It frustrated Columbia’s star guard. Lo scored 11 points on 4-16 shooting and had four turnovers in 37 minutes. Even when Lo was able to split the double and get to the rim there was more help waiting, typically in the form of Shonn Miller, and Lo shot 3-10 on two-point attempts.
“[I’m] just trying to move the ball when that happens,” Lo said about the double teams. “My teammates make a pass from that and expose the double team basically.”
Lo went 0-2 and scored zero points in 17 minutes in the first meeting between these two teams, so this was a bit of an improvement according to Lions head coach Kyle Smith.
“He played better against their stuff today,” Smith said about his star guard. “With Onuorah out there he’s pretty quick. With a hard double you just have to get it out of there. It’s four on three if we can get it out. He split it a couple times early in that first half, I thought he made a couple drives that would get rewarded.”
Smith would’ve liked to see more of Lo’s drives end in foul shots, but the Lions ended up taking only nine free throw attempts in the entire game, three by Lo, as Cornell’s physical front line defense held tough when Columbia managed to make its way into the paint.
The biggest problem on offense for the Lions though is that besides Isaac Cohen, who scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting, no one else seemed to want to shoot. Columbia shot 19-58 from the field (32.8%) and started the second half with scoreless streak that nearly reached seven minutes. By the end of the game the Lions were passing up good looks trying to get the perfect one.
The Big Red pose a unique challenge due to their athleticism all over the roster. After struggling in the game in Ithica, Shonn Miller looked like an Ivy League Player of the Year candidate on Saturday. He hit a variety of mid-range jump shots, went to the rim and finished with 18 points on 7-15 shooting. His biggest impact though was on defense, where the 6’7″ senior provided that extra rim protector and rebounder that made the job of whoever was playing the other front court spot much, much easier. Miller blocked four shots and grabbed eight defensive boards during the game.
“He was good. He was really good,” Smith said about Miller. “He grabs every defensive rebound, blocks a lot of shots, and he’s good offensively too. He effective when he’s not scoring and he’s a very good offensive player. He brought it.”
Galal Cancer, who didn’t score a single point in the first matchup, also found space to drive on Saturday. The Lions big men weren’t nearly as effective helping in the post as Cornell’s and it showed as Cancer scored 16 points on 7-12 shooting, including 6-10 on two-point attempts. Smith searched for the right big man for both offense and defense all game, but Cory Osetkowski, Jeff Coby, Luke Petrasek and Chis McComber were a combined 4-18 from the field for 10 points. There’s just no way Columbia is going to win basketball games when its forwards produce so little offense.
It was particularly strange that Columbia was unable to take advantage of their 19 offense rebounds. A lot of those ended up going out of bounds and giving Cornell time to reset its defense, but the Lions managed only 11 second-chance points on 19 offensive rebounds. The second half started with a 1:53 long possession that included four offensive rebounds by ultimately ended in an offensive foul by Lo trying to drive to the basket.
That offensive inefficiency summed up Columbia evening and a lost opportunity for the Lions.

In front of a sold-out home crowd, the Light Blue men’s basketball team (9-7, 1-1 Ivy) failed to pull off the series sweep of Cornell (9-9, 1-1 Ivy), falling 57-47.
For the second week in a row, sophomore guard Maodo Lo struggled against a strong Cornell defense. But unlike last weekend in Ithaca, the Lions were unable to make up for Lo’s offensive struggles.
After shooting 40 percent from the field in the first half, the Light Blue shot just 27.3 percent in the second half. Though Lo heated up in the last 10 minutes—scoring nine of his 11 points in the second half—it wasn’t enough to overcome the Big Red.
“We got a lot of open shots, they just weren’t going down in the second half,” said junior guard Isaac Cohen, who led the Lions with 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists
Ivy League leading scorer Shonn Miller—whom the Lions kept quiet last week—played strong on both ends of the court Saturday, finishing with a game-high 18 points and 4 blocks. Miller also had help from guards Devin Cherry and Galal Cancer, who finished with 9 and 16 points, respectively.
“They drove us today,” Lo said after the game. “Not only did they drive us, but they finished, too. So I think that was the major difference [from last week].”
Light Blue head coach Kyle Smith also stressed that Miller and Cornell’s other big men—forward David Onuorah and center Dave LaMore, who had two blocks each—made it difficult for the Lions to get to the rim.
One of the few Columbia players who did manage to get through Cornell’s frontcourt was Cohen. As a player who has embraced his role as more of a distributor and rebounder than a scorer, Cohen said his 6-for-10 shooting on Saturday was largely the result of the Big Red’s extra pressure on Lo.
“If Lo comes off a ball screen and they trap it ... it’s a 4-on-3 and I’m usually the next guard coming up,” he said. “So I just was in a position to get a lot of drives, and the way they were pressuring, driving was our best option offensively tonight."
The Lions started the second half trailing by only two, but a scoring drought of almost seven minutes allowed Cornell to widen the gap. With about 13 minutes left in the game, both teams' offenses picked up.
Lo hit his first of only two three-pointers with 10:44 on the clock, bringing Columbia within three. But two free throws and a three pointer by guard Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof pushed Cornell’s lead back to eight.
Although a Cohen lay-up couple minutes later cut Cornell’s lead to six, that was as small as the margin would get.  As time wound down, Columbia resorted to long-range shots in an attempt to gain some ground, but the Lions went 2-for-14 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Though their shots weren’t going in, the Lions performed well on the boards. Senior center Cory Osetkowski had 11 rebounds and Columbia totalled 19 offensive boards on the night. But those rebounds brought little relief, as Columbia failed to take advantage of its second chances.
The Lions will continue their five-game homestand next weekend when they face Yale and Brown.

NEW YORK – The Columbia men’s basketball team could not overcome an off shooting night as they fell to Cornell, 57-47, in front of a standing-room only crowd at Levien Gymnasium Saturday night. The Lions dropped to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in Ivy League play.
Columbia shot 27.3 percent (9-of-33) in the second half, which allowed the Big Red (9-9, 1-1) to open up a 13 point lead late in the second half to come away with the road win.
Isaac Cohen scored a team and season-best 13 points, converting on 6-of-10 from the field. Cory Osetkowski grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Columbia led for the majority of the first half, but could not quite break away from Cornell. A second-chance layup for Shonn Miller gave the Big Red an 18-17 advantage with 5:57 to play in the frame.
Five quick points from Kyle Castlin put the Lions back in front, 23-21, at the 2:23 marker. Cornell closed the half on a mini 6-2 spurt, capped by a tip-in by Dave LaMore to give the Big Red a 27-25 cushion heading into the break.
The Lions were held scoreless over the first 6:53 of the second frame until a Maodo Lo layup made it, 31-27, in favor of Cornell. Lo nailed a 3-pointer to bring Columbia within three less than two minutes later, but that would be as close as the Lions would get.
A 10-0 run, highlighted by five points from the Big Red’s Galal Cancer, extended the margin to 47-34 with 4:41 on the clock to effectively put the game away.
Miller finished up with 18 points, nine boards and four blocks for Cornell. Cancer chipped in 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
The Big Red shot 44.9 percent for the game and had nine rejections, the most by any Lions’ opponent this season.
Columbia continues its home swing against Yale on Friday, January 30, at 8 p.m. and will be aired on SNY. 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.


Matt said...

So far this season, two teams have held Columbia under 50 points. Kentucky did it once. Cornell has done it twice. Very impressive performance on defense. Columbia had a week to prepare after we held them to 48 points in Ithaca. In their home gym, they get 47.

BigRed1965 said...

Awesome game! Glad to be there with son, enjoyed seeing so many eminent figures in Cornell basketball past and present! Highlights were Shonn Miller's NBA-like game, incredible moves by Cancer and Cherry, LaMore's tough play around basket including tip-in at halftime buzzer, Abdur Ra'oof's "cameo appearance" resulting in 5 key points to extend lead to 40-32, and Robert Hatter's 2nd week of great defense on Maodo Lo, notwithstanding wrist injury. This team is for real - smothering defense, all-around athleticism and determination.

Anonymous said...

Defense travels, if BigRed can get significant offense from Cherry, Cancer and Hatter simultaneously BigRed will be a hard team to knock off even by Harvard or Yale! But fellas, one game at a time , concentrate on Brown for now!

Keep the D going and take good shots and let the chips fall where they may. I believe this team has the talent up and down the roster to compete this year!

Let's go BigRed!!!!!! I a BELIEVER!!!!

Anonymous said...

The @columbia game is always good for seeing Cornell bball alumni in attendance.

Saw eitan Chemerinski and Jason battle. Anybody see any others?

BigRed1965 said...

Also saw Garry Munson, Gregg Morris, Len Breslow, Khaliq Gant, Conor Mullin, Jake Matthews