January 15, 2009

Undefeated at Home, Red Goes 6-1 Over Break

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With a 69-46 win at Bryant on Monday, the men’s basketball team tallied its 10th win of the season — when the Red (10-6) resumes play at Columbia this weekend, it will be the first time in 56 years that the Red enters the Ivy League season with ten wins under its belt. The victory in Smithfield, R.I., was Cornell’s fifth in a row.
After opening the break with a home win against La Salle University, 79-70, the Red dropped a close contest to St. Joseph’s at the Palestra in Philadelphia, 71-67.
Blowing out Boston University, 89-59, and edging Quinnipiac, 73-70, in late December, the squad got back to .500, notching a win over D-III powerhouse Ursinus Jan. 3, 99-45. 6-1 since a semester-ending loss at Minnesota in early December, the Red remains perfect at Newman Arena, 6-0.
Senior point guard Louis Dale — who missed the Cornell’s earliest outings due to the court and showed why he is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, especially with his two clutch defensive plays late in the win over Quinnipiac.
He blocked a shot with 29 seconds left in the game then forced a held ball with 2.2 seconds left to give the Red possession. Junior forward Ryan Wittman was fouled after the inbounds pass and sank his two free throws to pad the Red’s lead. Dale, a team captain, and Wittman paced the offense with 23 and 25 points, respectively.
The game was a back-and-forth affair between the two schools better known for their hockey rivalry. The final 20 minutes of the game saw 10 ties and 16 lead changes. The largest lead by either team in the second half was just five points, and the lead was down to one point in either direction for the final five minutes of play. The Bobcats were able to contain senior center Jeff Foote to nine points and five boards and an uncharacteristic 3-of-11 shooting performance. Quinnipiac took advantage of Foote’s off night by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and notching 20 second-chance points.
The Red shot a school-record 18 3-pointers and rolled over Ursinus, 99-45. Cornell shot 59 percent from the field and all 16 players on the roster saw playing time. The win was the Red’s 18th straight victory over non-D-I teams.
The Red offense wasn’t too shabby in its one loss over break, however. Three players reached double figures for the visitors at the Palestra — junior forward Ryan Wittman led the team with 16 points while classmates Louis Dale notched 15 and Geoff Reeves added 13.
The men couldn’t hold on to a 13-point first half lead, as St. Joseph’s used a late 11-3 run to come out on top, 71-67.