January 24, 2010

Red Completes Season Sweep of Columbia Lions

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NEW YORK, N.Y. — Playing to a crowd that was almost as red as it was blue, the men’s basketball team finished off a crushing season sweep of Columbia with a 77-51 win Saturday night. The Red won the two-game season series against the Lions by a combined 47 points.

The Lions (6-10, 0-2 Ivy) couldn’t find the basket on offense and had a revolving door defense that let senior co-captain Louis Dale and the Red backcourt to penetrate all night. Dale finished the night with a game-high 16 points and eight assists. The Red’s (16-3, 2-0) defense held Columbia’s top-3 scorers to 3-of-23 shooting and the entire squad to 23 percent shooting overall.

While the Red has won nine straight against the Lions, Saturday’s win was the most dominating of the nine, comparable only to last weekend’s 21-point triumph against Columbia.

Much of Cornell’s supremacy Saturday could be attributed to a stout defense. The Lions made only six field goals in the first half and 13 overall. The total was tied for the fewest field goals the Red has given up this year. Taking advantage of the Lions’ numerous misses, Cornell controlled the boards in the first half, 25-19. The Lions struggled to box out Wittman, Dale, and senior co-captain Jon Jaques, focusing instead on keeping senior Jeff Foote off the glass.

Offensively, Dale dictated the action with 12 first-half points, including an emphatic dunk on a breakaway that visibly stunned the crowd. Columbia double-teamed Foote, opening up outside shots for Wittman — who had nine first half points — and dump-off opportunities for his teammates.

With a 37-23 lead at intermission, Cornell decided to keep pounding away at the lane, scoring 20 second half points in the paint, compared to Columbia’s six. Dale continued to commandeer the offensive end for playmaking purposes, dishing out five of his game-high eight assists in the second half.

As recently as a few weeks ago, the Lions were statistically the best 3-point shooting team in the nation. In the second stanza, Columbia was forced to resort to long range shooting, but was only able to connect on 2-of-10 from downtown.

A flurry of 3s  — two from senior Geoff Reeves, one from sophomore Chris Wroblewski — put Cornell up 27 with over 11 minutes remaining and sat down the standing crowd. The Red reserves took over and put up 24 points after the break to keeppt the Lions from creeping any closer than 21 the rest of the way.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Red was treated to “My Old Cornell” from some of the Red faithful as the squad trotted off the court to celebrate its 14th victory in 15 contests and fourth straight overall. Cornell hopes for a similar outcome this Friday night against Ivy League rival Dartmouth.

Original Author: Cory Bennett