February 16, 2009

M. Basketball Sidesteps Around Crimson

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The Cornell men’s basketball (17-7, 7-1 Ivy) team shot their way to victory Friday night, going 61.9 percent from the field to defeat Harvard (10-11, 2-5 Ivy), 96-75. Five players finished with double figures to put the Red back atop the Ivy rankings with Princeton’s loss to Yale. Junior Ryan Wittman led all scorers with 20 points, hitting 4-of-7 3s passing Cody Toppert ’05 in the school’s all-time 3-pointers made list.
“It’s always good to get stuff like that,” Wittman said. “But it makes it better when it’s a win.”
[img_assist|nid=35151|title=Swoosh|desc=Freshman Chris Wroblewski had a career high 17 points in the Red’s win against Harvard, 96-75. The team returned to the number one ranking, as Princeton lost to Yale.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The win seemed likely as the Red went into halftime up 51-35. The margin stemmed from a 27-5 run that put Cornell’s lead up to 20 points. During the run, senior co-captain Brian Kreefer was the recipient of assists from junior Louis Dale and freshman Chris Wroblewski, Wittman hit 3-pointers in transition and the Red played staunch defense. Even though the Crimson shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half, their lack of ball handling let the Red take the lead.
“They really weren’t moving the ball too well,” Wittman said. “They kept trying to take their man off the dribble and I think we took advantage of that and got our hands on the ball.”
The chances to score in transition prompted unselfish play from the Red. In fact, Cornell set a program record with 31 assists, with only eight field goals unassisted. Freshman Chris Wroblewski, who scored a career high 17 points, was a main cog in the Red’s passing game.
“I think it all starts with [junior] Louis Dale getting into the lane, he just makes everyone better,” Wroblewski said. “Coach D. definitely emphasizes an unselfish way to play and I think we did that to our fullest tonight.”
Unlike the Red, the Crimson didn’t run a very fluid offense.
One key reason was the stalling of standout Harvard guard, Jeremy Lin.
Lin, who played remarkably in Harvard’s shocking upset of Boston College, blanked on points and committed eight turnovers.
“We were playing great team defense,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “We were excited to play him, he is really good.”
Many players noticed that Harvard wasn’t on their game.
“They really weren’t moving the ball too well,” Wittman said. “Whenever he started driving the ball, it was one-on-five, it wasn’t one-on-one.”
Tommy Amaker’s Crimson did not leave Ithaca without making a run.
Harvard scored the first 10 points of the second half in the first 3:26 to bring the lead down to six. The Red would respond with Dale driving the lane for a layup, a dunk by senior center Jeff Foote and a layup from sophomore Adam Wire would push the lead back to 12. The Red would keep its lead in double-digits for the remainder of the game.
“They started taking chances,” Donahue said. “We handled it well for the most part.”
“Teams are going to go on runs, especially a team like Harvard that can score so well,” Wittman said. “I think we responded well though.”