February 18, 2008

Despite Sluggish Play, Red Tops Green

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They won In the battle of contrasting colors, it was the Red that stopped the Green this weekend as Cornell earned a 76-63 win Saturday night on the road.
The Red finished Friday night’s game against Harvard in a flurry, causing turnovers and scoring six consecutive points to earn a stunning victory. It seemed that the effort put forth by the team played a role in its slow start the following night. The team started the game down early as Dartmouth’s Jonathan Ball scored seven points in the first four minutes to give the Green an early 12-4 lead.
“We didn’t come out with as much energy as we needed to,” said sophomore forward Alex Tyler. “On the road it will always be tough against any team if we don’t come out with enough energy. … We were all a little bit tired considering how hard we worked at Harvard the night before. I think we were fine though, we have grown accustomed to it [back-to-back conference games]. After the first couple of minutes, once we got legs under us, we were fine.”
After Dartmouth made its run, the Red used accurate shooting and steady defense to get back into the contest and finally earn the victory. With sophomore point guard Louis Dale on the bench with two early fouls, classmate Ryan Wittman stepped up. Wittman scored seven consecutive points to give the Red its first lead since tip-off.
“Ryan always has a knack for taking and making big shots,” Tyler said. “He feels that it is his responsibility to make big shots and when we are down he wants to take those shots. I wouldn’t have anybody else taking those shots.”
The Red managed to shoot 57 percent from the field, including 68 percent in the first half. According to the players, the high percentage shooting performance can be attributed to the Red’s willingness to wait for the open shot on the offensive end.
“Basically it came down to patience,” said junior guard Jason Battle. “We took better shots and there was better movement.”
“We were making good basketball plays,” Tyler said. “Almost everybody or our team can hit shots if they are open and we got some good looks.”
Scoring wasn’t as easy for the Green, who finished the contest shooting 46 percent from the field. Despite the good percentage, the Green shot worse in the second half. Dartmouth’s shooting percentage dropped from 50 to 41 percent between halves as the Red picked up the defensive energy.
“In the second half, we picked up the defense and started to pull away,” Tyler said. “We were flying around and talking a lot more and we started to play a lot better defense.”
Heading into halftime, the Red was only up by one after Dartmouth got a 3-pointer from DeVon Mosley to end the first. Cornell was able to pull away in the second, however, thanks to the increased defensive effort as well as an injury to Dartmouth’s Alex Barnett. Barnett, Dartmouth’s leading scorer, sat out the game because of an ankle injury.[img_assist|nid=27904|title=Alexander the Great|desc=Sophomore Alex Tyler scored six points in the last 25 seconds to lead an improbably Red comeback over Harvard. Tyler fueled the 72-71 win with his 19 points and 10 rebounds.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It’s a big blow for them, he is one of the leading scorers in Ivies,” Battle said. “They had to go to a smaller lineup without him. We still knew they were going to play a good game and play hard.”
“We were prepared for him to play,” Tyler said. “We didn’t know until about 35 minutes before the game that he wasn’t playing. It changes the way they play a whole lot, they were running a lot more sets.”
Despite the difference in conference standing — Cornell being on top while Dartmouth is tied for last place — the Red still had a grueling contest, something that the team expects to see for the remainder of the season.
“Every team that we are going to play is always going to come out ready,” Tyler said. “Dartmouth came out to prove something and we will be getting that from every team since we have a target on our backs.”
All five starters scored in double figures for the Red. Wittman lead the way with 16 points, Dale and senior center Jason Hartford had 12 points apiece, junior Adam Gore netted 13 points and Tyler had 11. Mosley led Dartmouth with 18 points and Elgin Fitzgerald added 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.