February 4, 2008

Second-Half Run Swings Momentum to Red

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Last Friday, it was Brown that went into halftime against the men’s basketball team with confidence and momentum. The Red did its best to quell this momentum at the start of the second half, though, stringing together seven straight points. Cornell took the opportunity to run away from the Bears and secured a 75-64 victory.
Sophomore Ryan Wittman paced the team with 21 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Red held the Bears to 33 percent shooting to solidify the victory.
“They forced missed shots, balls were thrown away. Give credit to the defense,” said Brown head coach Craig Robinson. “To their credit they just hustled a lot. They made all the hustle plays.”
“At the end of the first half, we had a lapse and let them tie the game up,” said junior Jason Battle. “In the second half, we decreased turnovers and played better defense.”[img_assist|nid=27240|title=The Wittman is no joke|desc=Sophomore Ryan Wittman (20) led the Red with 21 points in the team’s 75-64 win over Brown Friday. A 7-0 second-half run propelled the Red.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Heading into the contest, it was the Brown backcourt duo that garnered a lot of the attention. Seniors Mark McAndrew and Damon Huffman are the leading scoring backcourt in the Ivy League, but only one was able to have a good performance. McAndrew led the Brown attack with 22 points on six-of-12 shooting. His backcourt partner, however, couldn’t get into a groove. Huffman finished the contest with four points on two-of-12 shooting.
“Stopping Huffman was important to us because he is a good shooter,” Battle said. “If he gets going he can knock down shots quickly.”
“They did a great job on Damon [Huffman],” Robinson said. “We weren’t getting enough down low early on [to help spread the floor]. We got some chances down there early on but we couldn’t convert them.”
It wasn’t just the Brown shooters who felt the pressure of Cornell’s defensive effort; Cornell controlled the boards, 35-26, something that the Red has not been known for over the course of the season.
“Rebounding has been our focus all year,” Battle said. “If we can out-rebound teams, our chances of winning increases.”
While the Bears failed to perform efficiently, it was the Red who performed well. The team shot 50 percent from the field, including nine-of-18 from the 3-point line and poured in 90.9 percent from the free throw line, going 18-of-19.
The game had a huge impact on the Ivy League standings. On Friday, Columbia traveled to Yale and defeated the Bulldogs and gave the Red a chance to own an early advantage in the standings.
“That was a very big win for us,” Battle said. “Brown is a very talented team and for us to beat them on the road is great.”
The first half was a game of runs for both teams. Early in the half, the Bears were up by as much as seven before a 14-point swing — highlighted by a sting of Wittman 3s — put the Red on top.
The Bears would respond, however, with a 13-3 run to send both teams into the locker room with a score of 33 apiece.
That’s when Cornell began the run that would put it ahead for good. Brown would get within two, but no closer before the final buzzer.
Sophomore Louis Dale added 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Classmate Alex Tyler also scored in double-digits with 11 points and six rebounds.