Thursday, November 19, 2015

News and Notes: Thursday Edition, Cornell Victory over Binghamton

Below, news and notes...

The Big Red didn’t let the lead slip away this time around.
The Cornell University men’s basketball team defeated in-state rival Binghamton University, 76-59, in the home opener at Newman Arena on Wednesday night. Junior guard Robert Hatter had 15 points and 11 assists and freshman Matt Morgan’s 24 points led the way for the Big Red, who improved to 2-1 this season.
During their most-recent visit to Ithaca, the Bearcats rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second half to pull out a 10-point win over the Big Red in November 2013.
After taking an 11-point lead into halftime, the Big Red backcourt trio of Hatter, Morgan and Darryl Smith kept the Bearcats from getting back into this one.
Morgan scored 16 second-half points. Smith, a junior guard, scored a career-high 16 points and made his first six shots from the floor, including starting 4-for-4 on 3-pointers.
“We want to make ourselves hard to guard,” Cornell head coach Bill Courtney said. “We always say we want to play with pace and space. We think we have very good dribble drive guys that attack the basket. Once a team collapses, which Binghamton did a great job of tonight, finding the open guy becomes really paramount to what we’ve doing.”
Contrary to what the first two games of the season and the 214 points the Big Red allowed might have led some to assume, the Big Red defense proved it can be a highly –disruptive force at times.
The Bearcats committed five turnovers, including back-to-back shot clock violations in the first nine minutes. The Bearcats, who were held to 60 points or less in each of their first two games, shot 30 percent from the floor in the first half.
The Big Red went on a 16-3 run to grab a 31-19 lead with 4:34 remaining in the first half when Hatter pushed the ball in transition and found Smith in the corner for a 3-pointer. The hosts carried a 38-27 lead going into halftime.
Three-point shooting provided a lot of the firepower for the Big Red throughout the first half. Smith and Morgan led the charge with a combined five first-half treys. The Big Red went 7-for-15 from long range. The Big Red came into the game shooting 40 percent (23-for-58) from behind the arc in the first two games of the season.
ITHACA, N.Y. – Freshman Matt Morgan wowed the Newman Nation crowd with a career-high 24 points and Cornell overcame turnovers on the offensive end with relentless pressure on the other as the Big Red opened its home slate with a 76-59 win over Binghamton. Cornell moved to 2-1 with the win, while the Bearcats dropped to 0-3.

Morgan added four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block along with five 3-point field goals to lead three double figure scorers. Junior Darryl Smith established a new career high with 16 points, including hitting 6-of-7 field goals, and classmate Robert Hatter chipped in 15 points and a career-high 11 assists. Junior David Onuorah posted a career high in rebounds for the second straight game, grabbing 15 errant Binghamton shots.

After allowing an average of 107.0 points in its first two games, the Big Red's pressure defense was extremely effective against the Bearcats, forcing 16 turnovers and limiting the visitors to 37 percent shooting overall and a long 9-of-30 night from beyond the arc. Cornell held Binghamton to 27 points and 30 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes.

Cornell's effort on the defensive end, that included a 37-29 edge on the backboards, helped the Big Red overcome 20 turnovers. Cornell hit 12-of-24 3-pointers, its third straight game with double digits in treys. Smith was 4-for-4 for Cornell, while Morgan was 5-of-8.

Binghamton's Marlon Beck II had a team-high 17 points off the bench, including 5-of-10 3-pointers, while Willie Rodriguez added 14 points and seven rebounds.

While Morgan was in the spotlight, his dynamic backcourt mates Smith and Hatter were key. Hatter, who entered the contest 19th nationally in scoring at 26.0 ppg., scored 15 of 11 shots and set up easy basket after easy basket with his drive-and-kick, including a number to Morgan. Smith was efficient and steady, making every open shot with his lone miss coming on a drive that rimmed out. He added two steals, a block and two rebounds in his 27 minutes on the floor.

Cornell scored the game's first eight points and looked as though it might be off to the races, but Binghamton answered with a 16-7 run that put the visitors into the lead for the first time at 16-15 with 9:26 left in the first half.

The lead lasted nine seconds, or about long enough for Hatter to get the ball ahead to Smith for a go-ahead layup. Smith and Morgan hit consecutive 3-pointers and Onuorah, who had eight points and a block to go with his 15 boards, finished after being hit on the arm going up. The 10-0 spurt over just 2:17 was the separation it needed, and the home team went into the break with a 38-27 lead despite having a Morgan jumper waived off after a review for being a fraction of a second late.

A Beck 3-pointer with 11:52 remaining got the Bearcats back within five (51-46), but that triggered a 12-3 Big Red run and Cornell didn't need to sweat the rest of the way.

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