As freshman guard Jake Matthews jogged back down the court after banking a 3-pointer, he couldn’t help but smile; the way the game was going, it seemed as if Cornell (7-17, 3-7 Ivy League) couldn’t miss a shot all night in its showdown with Dartmouth (5-19, 1-9). After losing to Harvard the previous night, the Cornell men’s basketball team bounced back Saturday night with a tremendous offensive showcase against Dartmouth in a blow out, 96-76.
The Red set season-high records with 96 points and a field-goal percentage of 56.9, while tying its season-high record for 3-pointers with 16. Six players ended the game with points in the double digits, with sophomore forward Errick Peck’s leading at 22.
The game started off with a flourish as sophomore guard Miles Asafo-Adjei tossed up an alley-oop to Peck. The teams were very evenly matched through most of the first half, as a 3 by Dartmouth forward Nick Jackson cut the Red lead to one, 22-21, with 9:02 to play.
After Jackson’s 3, junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski shot a midrange jump-shot that touched every part of the rim before eventually falling in. This seemed to provide the Red with the little spark it needed — Cornell reeled off an 11-2 run in the next few minutes when junior guard Andrew Ferry shot off 3 consecutive 3-pointers, all of which were assisted by Wroblewski.
Wroblewski capped off his great first half with a pull-up 3 on a fast break to make it a 49-37 Cornell lead at half. Wroblewski ended the half with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and seven assists.
Besides his multiple contributions to the team’s stat sheet, Wroblewski’s teammates and coach praised his other impressive aspects as well.
“[His best trait is] his leadership. Having him on the court really calms everybody else down,” said sophomore guard Johnathan Gray. “He’s extremely focused — offensively [and] defensively — he’s a leader on the court, he communicates extremely well [and] he tells everybody where they need to be on the court.”
“[Wroblewski] was tremendous controlling the basketball on the offensive end. He made the right plays tonight, whether it was the pass for an assist or taking the open shot,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “He really did a good job with his decision making and he spearheaded our defense. Our whole plan was to speed those guys up and he was fully involved in … helping us speed them up.”
The second half started with an absolute explosion with the Red shooting 6-of-6 out of the gate — led by Errick Peck’s four 3-pointers. With 14:56 remaining, the lead had expanded to 68-49.
“Fresh legs, I guess, I really don’t know,” Peck said when asked where his stunning shooting display came from. “Once you get in a comfort zone you just keep hoisting them up and they keep going in.”
Dartmouth began to claw back and cut the lead down to nine after two free throws by center Clive Weeden.
After Weeden’s free throws, the Red played some shutdown defense, allowing them to score just once in the next five minutes. During one stretch, Gray grabbed a defensive rebounded, then drove coast-to-coast for a lay-up before being fouled. After hitting his free throw, Gray stole the inbounds pass from Dartmouth and put in another easy lay-in for 2 points.
Gray—a former walk-on 6-foot-3 guard— showed tremendous energy and hustle all game and finished the game with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, including 5 offensive. No one else in the game finished with more than 5 rebounds.
“It was just all hustle,” said Gray. “I had a really tough shooting day — things just weren’t going my way offensively and I really wanted to make an effort on defense and rebounding. I wanted to make a conscious effort to get on the glass and help this team out in any way I could.”
The Red continued its bout of hot shooting — with 6:02 to go the lead had ballooned to 89-65, lifting the game just out of Dartmouth’s reach.
The Red had a chance to break the century mark — they had 96 points with 2:08 remaining — but it was not the team’s ultimate goal.
“I don’t want to be that kind of team,” said Peck. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to me … as long as we get the win, that’s all that matters.”
Despite their incredible offensive display, the Red was a mixed bag defensively.
“We allowed way too much dribble penetration and we didn’t [play help defense] enough, but what we did do — which I was pleased about — was the fact that we got the game going fast,” Courtney said. “They took quick shots and they tried to make plays early … which allows our shooters to get more opportunities. We’ve got to do a better job around the basket. That’s an area of concern, especially heading into [Princeton and Penn] next week.”
Original Author: Albert Liao