November 26, 2012

MEN’S BASKETBALL | Red Comes Back to Win Some

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After beginning the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament with a blowout loss against Wisconsin, the Red (2-4) looked to rebound in its next game against Arizona State (4-0). Cornell took a 25-22 lead into halftime due to a strong defensive effort, but Arizona State eventually took the lead and held on for a 64-53 victory.

One of the biggest concerns for the Red was the team’s inability to hold onto the ball, as Cornell turned the ball over 23 times — led by sophomore guard Galal Cancer’s seven turnovers. Inconsistent play led to 18 points off turnovers for Arizona State.

The Red’s forwards gave a dynamic performance to help the Red stay in the game. Sophomore forward Shonn Miller had his best game of the season, as he scored a team-high 13 points on 4-6 shooting and also led the team with 12 rebounds to help the Red control the glass, where it held a 40-36 advantage in that area. Senior forward Josh Figini started the game and was the second leading scorer as he recorded 12 points, including two threes.

Freshman guard Nolan Cressler continued his solid play off the bench — hitting two more threes for six points, while recording six rebounds and an assist. Senior guard Johnny Gray struggled again — missing both his field goal attempts and played just 11 minutes.

Arizona State guard Jahii Carson led the Sun Devils with 21 points and 4 assists. Carson was a freshman last year, but was eligible to play due to NCAA sanctions. The 5-10 guard was a highly ranked recruit coming out of high school who received offers from many schools including Arizona, Memphis, Marquette, and UCLA.

The Red faced Presbyterian (0-6) in the next game and broke its 4-game losing skid, crushing the Blue Hose 89-55. The Red got out to a quick start on a three-pointer from Gray and never relinquished the lead to the Blue Hose.

After turning the ball over 23 times against the Sun Devils, the Red turned it over just seven times against Presbyterian. Cornell was also on fire throughout the game, as the Red finished 57 percent from the field and knocked down 11 three-pointers.

The Cornell guards led the way, as Gray had his best game of the season as his shots finally started falling into place, scoring 16 points with 3 three-pointers and grabbing four rebounds. Cressler earned his first start of his rookie career and recorded 14 points — hitting 3-6 from three — and 5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Devin Cherry — who now leads the team in scoring at 10.2 per game — was flawless from the field as he dropped 13 points on 5-5 from the field, including 3-3 from downtown, to provide a spark off the bench.

In its last game of the Las Vegas Invitational, Cornell continued its winning streak by beating Longwood (1-5), 84-78, in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational lower bracket. The Red again started well, as it went on a 25-5 run after going down 8-5 early to take a commanding 17-point lead that the team never gave up.

Senior forward Eitan Chemerinski starred in this game off the bench, as he had a team-high 19 points and 6 rebounds and a block. Also off the bench, senior forward Errick Peck recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Overall, Cornell’s bench outscored Longwood’s bench, 46-12, which provided a huge boost for the Red. Head coach Bill Courtney continues to play a 9-man rotation, as nine players all received more than 11 minutes of playing time.

After turning the ball over just seven times against Presbyterian, the Red experienced another inconsistent night, as the team had 20 turnovers against Longwood. Cornell was able to overcome its inability to hold onto the ball with an standout shooting display — 7-18 from three and 53 percent from the field.

Longwood was down by 14 with 3:41 to play and mounted a comeback, but it was too little too late, as Peck and Cressler knocked down six straight free throws to put the game away at the end. The Lancers were led by the trio of guards Nik Brown and Tristan Carey, who each recorded 19 points, and forward Michael Kessens, who led the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

After the long road trip, Cornell’s next game will be at home against last year’s America East regular season champion Stony Brook (4-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Seawolves lost three of their top four scorers from their championship team last year, but Stony Brook is still expected to finish second in the conference, according to preseason polls.

Original Author: Albert Liao

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