The weather outside was ice cold, but the fire inside the heart of the men’s basketball team was burning red hot Saturday afternoon as the squad breezed to a 77-47 win over Columbia (10-5, 1-1 Ivy).
The Red, which improved to 6-9 overall and 1-1 in conference play, earned the 30-point win behind a spirited defensive effort which held the Lions to just 31 percent shooting, including a 2-for-15 effort from behind the arc.
Another key for the Red, according to head coach Steve Donahue, was the team’s ability to find open shots for each other, as the team finished with 19 assists compared to Columbia’s six.
“We shared the ball great tonight, and the defensive intensity was a big key for us,” Donahue said.
Defense was something the Red lacked in last weekend’s contest with Columbia, as the Lions cruised to a 70-61 win behind 10-of-13 shooting from three-point range. But the squad had the defensive edge on Saturday, out-rebounding the Lions 42-22, collecting seven steals, and swatting seven shots.
Sophomore Graham Dow led the way in the steals department with four, to go along with his six points, five assists, and first career blocked shot. Dow’s complete game off the the bench received plenty of praise from his head coach.
“Right now Graham is playing as well as any point guard in the league,” Donahue said. Dow noted that he and the rest of the guys on the bench were simply doing their jobs. “Our role is to provide a spark coming off the bench,” Dow said. “And when we are playing that well together the defense can’t really key on one guy.”
Balance was the name of the game for the Red, as just two players — junior Ryan Rourke and senior Eric Taylor — scored in double figures, while eight players scored at least six points and nine logged at least 13 minutes on the floor.
Taylor was the one of the leaders for the Red with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Rourke netted 13 points to go along with his five rebounds.
Yet, the Red thrived because of solid efforts off the bench from Dow, senior Cody Toppert, who netted seven points, and freshman Will Scott, who tallied eight points, including two three-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Sophomore Andrew Naeve had an efficient outing filling in for Taylor at the center spot, as he scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, with four rebounds, two assists, and three blocks in 13 minutes.
“I think the ability of both our centers make us real hard to defend in this league,” Donahue said.
The Cornell attack was hard to defend from the get-go on Saturday as the team made a 17-4 run to open the game. The lead ballooned to 21 points at halftime after the Red shot 56 percent in the first frame, while holding the Lions to just seven field goals in the first 20 minutes.
The Lions picked up their game slightly in the second half, behind forward Matt Preston’s 12 points and eight rebounds, but it was not enough, as the Red never relinquished its lead.
The game, which was the Red’s first home game since Dec. 28, is the start of a five-game Ivy League homestand which continues with games against Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend.
Archived article by hris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor