Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News and Notes: Wednesday Edition

Below, news and notes for Wednesday...

  • The Ivy League notes, "'Inside Ivy League Basketball' provides insights into the #14GameTournament once again on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. on The Ivy League Digital Network (ILDN), featuring interviews with Cornell men's basketball head coach Bill Courtney."
  • Ivy Hoops Online ranks Cornell 5th in its power poll and writes, "5. Cornell (3-3) How does a senior-laden team like this build up a 12-0 run against a freshman-filled Penn squad and lose? Sure, it made the run it had to against Princeton, but the Big Red are 0-4 in games decided by three points or less, and that doesn’t even include an overtime loss to St. Peter’s earlier this season."
  • It took them until Wednesday, but the Cornell Daily Sun finally recapped the weekend:
 Men Drop Game to Quakers

This weekend, the Cornell men’s basketball team split its set of games, losing, 71-69, to rival Penn on Friday and snagging a victory over Princeton, 68-60, on Saturday. In its first game of this past weekend’s home contests, Cornell was the victim of a powerful second half comeback, however, the following day, the Red (11-11, 3-3 Ivy) was the team to beat, storming back after being down at halftime.
The Red started strong against the Quakers (7-12, 2-3 Ivy) jumping out to a 12-0 lead. However, Penn cut the lead to eight points before halftime thanks to some sharp-shooting from behind the arc. Penn’s Tony Hicks tied up the game at 43 with 11 minutes to go. Hicks would score an overall game high 25, including four of six from 3-point territory. Overall, the Quakers shot 10 of 19 on 3-point field goals.
Quick baskets from senior guard Devin Cherry and sophomore guard Robert Hatter extended the Red’s lead back to five. Cornell continued to apply pressure and led by eight with five minutes to go. The Quakers chipped away at the lead, but senior forward Shonn Miller converted a three point play to give the Red a five point advantage with under two minutes to play.
Penn’s Sam Jones, who was three for four from deep, made a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left, giving Penn a 69-68 lead. Miller was fouled on the other end but could only convert one of two from the line.
With the game all tied up, Hicks made a clutch floater in the paint over the outstretched arms of several Red players to give the Quakers a two point lead with four seconds left. Without a timeout to spare, Cherry was forced to take a running 3-pointer that clanked off the side of the rim.
“You gotta give Penn a lot of credit,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “They made a lot of tough shots. But at the same time, we feel like we didn’t guard well down the stretch and we kind of allowed them to stay in the game.”
Although it was on the losing end, the Red did a great job of securing the basketball, committing just seven turnovers on the night while forcing 17. Courtney also noted that the offense looked good against the Quakers.
“We scored the basketball a little bit better and that was a big thing for us because we had struggled shooting the basketball in our previous games,” he said. “Shonn Miller was able to get back on track, scoring inside a little bit.”
However, Cornell struggled in other aspects of the game. The Red, the best free-throw shooting team in the league, shot poorly from the charity stripe, connecting on 66 percent of its shots, its lowest percentage since November. The Red also had its lowest rebounding total of the season and allowed the Quakers to shoot almost 50 percent.
Against Princeton on Saturday, Cornell found itself on the other end of a late game collapse. Coming off big conference wins against Dartmouth and Columbia, the Tigers faltered early, scoring just three points in the first five minutes of the contest.
Princeton would heat up after that, however, building a seven point lead that was eventually cut down to four going into the half. After a few minutes of back and forth early in the second half, Princeton went on a 10-1 run, giving the Tigers a 12 point lead with 10 minutes to play. Cornell responded with a furious rally. In a little under seven minutes the Red turned a 12 point deficit into a 10 point lead. Cornell scored 22 straight points, hitting shots from everywhere on the court and sinking all eight free-throws.
On the defensive end, the Red deflated the Tigers, forcing six turnovers. Over the last 11 minutes of the game, the Cornell’s stifling defense allowed only one field goal to Princeton, the Ivy League’s second best offense.
“It was really what we envisioned this team could be,” Courtney said of the run. “We were able to do all the things that we talk about everyday. Our defensive pressure was tremendous [and] we forced them into rushed shots. We controlled the tempo of the game.”
The game was an excellent showcase of just how far this team has come since last season. 11 months ago, Princeton came into Newman Arena and scored 25 consecutive points to open the game. The Tigers would go on to win by 40, handing Cornell it’s 25th loss of the season. A year later, Cornell came away with the big run and the victory.
Four Cornell players finished with double digits in scoring, including freshman forward Pat Smith. Smith scored a career-high 10 points in his first start of the season, all of which came in the Red’s dominant second half. Courtney said he’s encouraged by his team’s resiliency to bounce back like they did even after a close defeat.
“It was great to see the team recover from that tough loss,” he said. “They really put together a stretch of basketball that was our best all year.”
This weekend, the Red travels to Dartmouth on Friday to battle the Green and then onward to league leader Harvard on Saturday.

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