December 3, 2003

Men's Hoops Throttles Cross-Town Rivals, 69-37

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The results of the men’s basketball game against Ithaca College last night were definitive. Cornell started out on a roll, and the Bombers never really had a chance after that.

The Red hammered IC from the get-go, posting a 15-0 run in the first five minutes of play and running the score to 19-2 before Ithaca could get its second basket. From there on, the Bombers never got closer than 16.

“I thought we came out well, really executed” said head coach Steve Donahue.

Coming into the game, the Red was looking for a fast start, and it got it.

“It was really important to show we respect them,” said sophomore Lenny Collins.

The starters eliminated any hope Ithaca had on offense and mined the fast break for easy points at every opportunity to run out to the big early lead.

“We just like to run,” said Collins. “It really helps our confidence boost throughout the game.”

When Ithaca managed to defend against the break, Cornell picked the Bombers apart with a solid half-court game.

But Donahue made sure to give Ithaca credit for its scrappy play against the Red.

“I thought they really, really played hard,” said the coach. “They make it difficult to look good.”

Collins led the team with 17 points, including 15 in the first half, and contributed seven rebounds. Backing him up, junior Cody Toppert shot 5-for-6 from the floor on his way to 14 points.

After the team’s top five played through most of the first and the beginning of the second, Donahue put in his subs to finish up and gain some game-time experience.

Six-foot freshman Graham Dow led the contingent off the bench with eight points and a team-leading nine rebounds in 26 minutes.

Dow admitted that he never expected to lead the team in boards.

“I definitely did not,” he said, giving credit to the team’s big men for boxing out the opposition. “I just come in there and sneak out the ball.”

Donahue noted the solid all-around play of both Collins and Graham, but was also sure to mention senior co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes. Barnes led the team in assists and steals with five each, contributed eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, and committed no turnovers.

“I thought Ka’Ron played flawlessly,” said Donahue. “He was just doing everything to help his team win.”

Over all, the coach noted that he was pleased with the team’s play on defense. The Red held IC to 24.6 percent shooting for the game, including 18.8 percent from beyond the arc, effectively shutting the team down.

“We’re capable of doing that,” said Donahue. “We’re strong enough and we’re experienced enough to do that.”

He noted in particular the tenacity of the Red’s starting five, including their ability to play man defense when they need it.

That defense, Dow observed, sets up other things too.

“I think our transition stems from our good man to man defense,” said the freshman.

And those things, defense and easy points off the break, will likely be key to Cornell’s success in its Ivy campaign this year, along with solid play on the boards.

There’s still some time before the team has to worry about that though. In the nearer term, the Red will embark on its first significant road trip of the season with games against Vermont and New Hampshire. The Red doesn’t have another home contest until Jan. 3.

“We’re really excited,” noted Dow about the rookies’ first significant trip.

But he also made a point to mention the importance of the games against the tougher competition.

“It’s important to make a stand, show what Cornell basketball is about,” said Dow.

Archived article by Matt James