January 26, 2009

M. Basketball Preserves Streak With Win Over Lions

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A gutsy effort by Columbia was not enough to derail the men’s basketball team’s seven-game win streak, as Cornell fought off several comeback attempts by the Lions en route to yet another win, 83-72.
Although Cornell’s (12-6, 2-0 Ivy) offense got off to a sluggish start the last time the Ivy rivals played, junior forward Alex Tyler had a big first half — 15 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot — to ensure that the Red got off to a solid start in its second league matchup of the 2008-09 season. Cornell used its speed and size to earn a .593 shooting percentage in the first half.
“We wanted to get up and down the floor a little faster and not come out in the first half and play slow like we did last week,” Tyler said. “We were getting up and down the floor more, and making quick decisions, and I think it worked out well for us.”
Tyler, who finished with 19 points and seven boards, was just one cog in a Red frontcourt playing at the top of its game.
“My teammates were doing a great job finding me,” Tyler said. “A lot of the baskets were pretty open. They were trapping the guards, and my teammates had great passes to find me.”[img_assist|nid=34396|title=Within reach|desc=Junior forward Alex Tyler (33) finished with 19 points in Saturday’s contest against Columbia.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Cornell scored 26 points in the paint and cashed in on short- and mid-range jumpers all afternoon. The Red attempted 17 3-pointers — slightly below its season average of 19 — and connected on five of them. Junior forward Ryan Witt­man was 1-of-6 from be­hind the arc, finishing with 10 points and four rebounds. All of Cornell’s starters finished in double-digits. Se­nior center Jeff Foote registered 13 points, nine re­bounds and three blocks.
Col­um­bia, regarded by opponents as a typically physical team, was hurt more than helped by the physicality of the contest. The Lions recorded 28 fouls, compared to 19 by the Red, and could not capitalize, going just 12-of-23 from the charity stripe. Cornell missed its first three free throws of the game, but finished 30-of-36 for a .833 free throw percentage, well above the Red’s season average of .740.
“I like physical play because you can play off of it,” Tyler said. “They leave their open spots open a lot because they put so much pressure on.”
After junior guard Louis Dale racked up two quick fouls, rookie guard Chris Wroblewski stepped in and ably handled point guard duties. Wroblewski was calm and collected while running the offense in the first half and finished with six points, a game-high five assists and a big block in a one-on-one situation that forced a Lion turnover.
Colum­bia’s bench contributed the bulk of its scoring — 51 points came from Lion reserves. Sopho­more forward Asen­so Ampim contribu­ted 10 points and six rebounds in his first game back from the injured list. Ampim also came up with a dunk that fired up Columbia’s bench for one of its several comeback attempts. Freshman guard Noruwa Agho put up a game-high 24 points for Columbia. However, no other Lion finished in double figures.
Columbia’s leading scorer, junior guard Patrick Foley, was held to 1-of-7 from the field and just six points, due largely to the defensive play of junior Geoff Reeves. Reeves also added 14 points and five rebounds as well as Cornell’s only dunk of the game, coming off a no-look pass from Wroblewski.
“It felt good,” Reeves said of his dunk. “Not going to lie.”