January 31, 2005

M. Basketball Splits Pair Against Ivy Rivals

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When the men’s basketball team faced Columbia for the first time on Jan. 15, the Lions roared to a nine-point win at home. In the rematch one week later, the Red showed Columbia what it was made of, embarrassing the Lions by 30 points at Newman Arena.

After Saturday’s 74-65 loss to Harvard, all the Red (7-10, 2-2 Ivy) can do is hope to repeat that effort Feb. 19, when it gets another shot at the Crimson (7-10, 2-2).

If the Red is to win that battle though, it will have to do a much better job taking care of the basketball. On Saturday, the Red turned the ball over nine times in the first half, as the Crimson jumped out to a 10-point lead at the break.

Offensively, the Red had trouble getting good looks in its half-court sets, which led to just four players tallying points in the half, and 33 percent shooting from the field.

In the second half, the Red picked up its shooting, hitting on 16-of-28 shots from the floor, including a 4-for-5 performance from junior Lenny Collins, who had no shot attempts in the first half. Yet Collins — who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds — was marred by the turnover bug that infected the entire Cornell team, as he ended with four of the Red’s 15 giveaways in the game.

But the second half was less about the Red’s ineptitude, and more about the Crimson’s dominance. In the final 20 minutes, Harvard missed just four shots, en route to 79 percent shooting in the frame, which was something Crimson head coach Frank Sullivan found very astonishing.

“I was shocked. Absolutely shocked,” said Sullivan. “During the week, we spent all of our time on defense, thinking we were going to need it, because we probably won’t shoot the ball particularly well.”

When the shooting barrage had ended, the Crimson was able to boast five players in double figures, including center Brian Cusworth, who was a force on both ends of the court, notching 15 points, including a strong, two-handed jam to put Harvard up by six early in the second half. Cusworth also tallied five rebounds and two blocked shots. Yet, the seven-footer’s efforts could best be described in a 10-second span late in the first half, when he blocked a shot, snatched a rebound, and nailed a three-pointer in the midst of the Crimson’s 9-0 run to end the half. But according to Sullivan, one of the things he was most pleased about was Cusworth’s help defense.

“We’ve been trying to get him to be a little bit tougher around the rim and challenge guys,” Sullivan said. “[Cusworth] tried to be more of a presence as the dribble got into the lane, and [he] even took a charge. We never even talked about that, but it just showed his enthusiasm for wanting to alter the dribble so they couldn’t create anything.”

Cusworth’s frontcourt mates — forwards Matt Stehle and Jason Norman — tallied 16 and 14 points, respectively. The two combined for 11-of-16 shooting, and each had a pair of steals. Also tallying double figures were guard David Giovacchini, who had 10 points, three rebounds, and four assists, and Jim Goffredo, with 11 points, two rebounds, and two assists in just 15 minutes of action.

For the Red, junior David Lisle (11 points, eight rebounds) and senior Eric Taylor (14 points, four rebounds) joined Collins in double figures. Logging solid minutes off the bench were sophomore Graham Dow, who contributed with eight points, three rebounds, and three assists, and freshman Will Scott, who chipped in with eight points, including two 3-pointers, in 17 minutes.

Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor