Sunday, February 8, 2015

GAME RECAP: Cornell 68, Princeton 60

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Down 12 points with eight minutes to go, things looked bleak for the Big Red on Saturday evening against Princeton. Then, in the blink of an eye, it all changed. Of course, this blink of an eye lasted 8 minutes and 42 seconds.

Cornell went on a 22-0 run over nearly nine minutes and allowed only one field goal, a meaningless 3-pointers just before the buzzer, over the game's final 11:21 to pull off a 68-60 comeback win over the Tigers in front of 2,889 fans at Newman Arena.

The Big Red limited the Tigers to 33 percent shooting overall and 32 percent from 3-point range, held a 36-29 rebounding edge, blocked eight shots and controlled the paint of both ends of the court to even its record at 11-11 (3-3 Ivy). Princeton fell to 10-11 (3-2 Ivy) with the loss.

Senior Galal Cancer had 17 points, four rebounds and two steals to lead four double figure scorers for the Big Red. Shonn Miller added 15 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks, Devin Cherry had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists and freshman Pat Smith, making his first career start, had a career-best 10 points in the win. Cornell connected on 31-of-36 free throws, including 10-of-12 in the final 90 seconds just 22 hours after 10 misses at the charity stripe proved costly in a buzzer-beating loss to Penn.

Princeton's Ben Hazel scored 18 points and Steven Cook had 11 points, though it came on just 3-of-15 shooting. Hans Brase had seven points and seven rebounds, but the All-Ivy forward missed all seven of his field goals.

Trailing by as many as 13 points midway through the second half, the Big Red kept believing and put together its second impressive second half comeback of the year, just shy of a 17-point deficit overcome earlier this year in a win over Colgate. Like it has all season, the Big Red did it with defense.

When Ben Hazel scored on a layup with 11:21 left to give the Tigers a 48-36 lead, Princeton was on cruise control. He then hit two free throws to push the lead to 13 with 10:23 remaining, and Brase hit two charity shots to go up 52-40 two minutes later.

From there, it was all about the Big Red.

Galal Cancer hit a driving layup, then after consecutive Princeton possessions ended in a Robert Hatter steal and a Shonn Miller block, Cancer hit a pair of free throws.Shonn Miller's steal was quickly sent up court and Devin Cherry finished with the foul. After the free throw, Cornell was back within five with 5:45 left.

Another Cornell steal, this time by Cancer led to two more free throws by Miller, and a second consecutive Cancer steal allowed the Big Red senior to go coast-to-coast to get the home team back within 52-51 to extend the run to 11-0. Two missed Princeton shots later and Miller bullied his way in down low for a tough jumper to give Cornell its first lead since 7-6 early on.

Not done yet, Cancer hit two more free throws, and after a missed front end of a one-and-one, Cherry set up the rookie Smith for a long rainbow 3-pointer, eliciting a Newman Nation explosion and a big fist pump from head coach Bill Courtney on the sidelines. Another Princeton miss and Cancer went to the line with 1:30 left, starting the free throw parade.

Little in the middle 20 minutes of the game let on the strong finish. Princeton would surge ahead, Cornell would grind its way back in, but never looked as though it would be able to get all the way back. The Big Red was able to trim a seven-point Tiger lead with 3:22 left int he first half to one just before halftime, but the Tigers' Clay Wilson hit a trey with 12 seconds left to put the visitors ahead 29-25 at the break.

Princeton methodically started pulling away in the second half, using a 10-1 run to take its biggest lead of the game with 10:23 left. From that point on, Cornell held the Tigers to 1-of-13 shooting with five turnovers the rest of the way.

Cornell will look to use the momentum heading into its first full Ivy road weekend when it visits Dartmouth on Friday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

It was a scoring drought that just couldn't be ended, fed by missed front-ends of 1-and-1 chances and turnovers at key moments, and Cornell was only happy to help it along.

The Big Red ended their 68-60 win by scoring 28 of the game's last 36 points, keeping Princeton without a point for a span of seven minutes while going on a 22-0 run.

The loss ends what was, through one and three-quarter games, a promising weekend for Princeton, which led the Big Red by as many as 13 points and by 12 before the scoring drought began with eight-plus minutes to go.

During the seven-minute drought, the Tigers were 0 of 5 from the field while missing the front end of two one-and-one chances from the free throw line and turning the ball over five times. Cornell held Princeton without a field goal for more than 11 minutes, until a Ben Hazel bucket in the closing seconds, and in between Princeton went 0 of 12 from the field.
For the first 30-plus minutes, Princeton was 15 of 36 from the field and looked headed for a sweep of the Cornell-Columbia road weekend for a third straight year. Hazel finished with a game-high 18 points and Steven Cook was the only other Tiger to join him in double figures, with 11.

Galal Cancer was one of four Big Red players in double figures, scoring 17 points to lead his club.


Anonymous said...

That 6 minute run was a text book example of pressure D leading to an equally aggressive up tempo O. Way to go big red.

Anonymous said...

This was an example of how good BigRed can be when its hitting on all aspects of the game even if it was only for nine minutes! The sky is the limit if BigRed can put together 40 minutes of play similar to that last nine. If BigRed can do that I believe they could be the best in the Conference this year!

That can only happen if we make a commitment to play inside out the rest of the way. Drive the lanes and pass it into the post in the Half Court, play pressure D and transition basketball when the opportunity arises.

This team is GOOD, much better than most believe and can play with anyone in this Conference including Yale and HAAAArvard.

Let's go BIGRED!!!!!! I'll believe to the bitter end!