November 29, 2010

Terriers Come From Behind to Defeat Red, 66-61

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BOSTON — Following Cornell’s home-opener win against Delaware on Nov. 17, junior guard Andrew Ferry admitted frustration that his 3-point shots were not falling — adding that he knew they would eventually, and was “looking forward to that day.”

On Saturday night, the 3’s finally started to fall. Unfortunately for Ferry and his teammates, however, there just weren’t enough of them, as the men’s basketball team dropped its third game in a row, 66-61, to America East favorite Boston University (4-3) at Case Gymnasium.

Ferry, making his first career start in a Cornell (2-4) uniform, notched a team-leading and career-high 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc, including back-to-back treys to give the Red a temporary 49-48 advantage with 5:38 remaining in regulation.

Ferry wasn’t the only addition to the starting lineup, as senior center Mark Coury replaced injured senior tri-captain Aaron Osgood, who will be out for a few games and is not expected back before the Break.

Besides Ferry, senior forward Adam Wire proved the lone bright spot for a rather anemic Cornell offense that saw two of the team’s best shooters — junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski and senior guard Max Groebe — shoot a combined 2-of-16 from the floor and 1-of-9 from downtown.

“It’s hard because Max … misses his first shot, it bothers him and you notice the next time he had a wide-open look he decided not to take it, and that’s the worst thing for a shooter … to lose your confidence,” said head coach Bill Courtney.

“He did a good job on [B.U. senior forward John] Holland defensively, on the other end of the floor, so you’ve got to give him credit for doing that. He didn’t give up, he didn’t hang his head, he just didn’t get his shots to fall.”

Wroblewski finished with nine points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

Wire posted a game-high nine rebounds and added 12 points — the only Cornell player besides Ferry to score in double-figures — while contributing two assists and three steals.

“I think [Wire’s] strength was a factor. … They didn’t have a lot of bulky guys, or super tall athletic guys, so he was able to get to the basket and make some plays,” Courtney said. “We’ve told him ‘You’ve got to be an offensive threat’; we told him to look for his shot a bit more, look for his offense, and he’s starting to do that.”

The first half saw limited offense from both teams, which shot only 33.3 percent overall and had comparable success — or lack thereof — from the 3-point line, with Cornell and B.U. shooting 28.6 and 25 percent from outside, respectively.

“In the first half we got great looks, we just didn’t make them. If we had made our shots in the first half, we’d have had a nice lead. … We’re getting the shots, we’re just not making them,” Courtney said.

Holland, who had 11 points to go along with six boards, got things started for his team, knocking down an open 3 — his only trey of the contest — to hand B.U. an early lead in the opening 60 seconds. The Red would get on the scoreboard two minutes later thanks to Wire, and would claim its first lead of the game following a 3 from Ferry.

A steal by Wire and pass from Wroblewski back to his fellow tri-captain at the top of the key with 7:13 to go in the first half set up Wire’s second career 3-pointer — putting him at a perfect 2-for-2 and living up to Courtney’s goal for his bigs to feel comfortable stepping out.

Wire showcased his versatility on the ensuing Cornell possession, getting into the lane for a layup following a feed from sophomore guard Errick Peck to hand the Red its largest lead of the half at 14-11.

With 48 seconds remaining and Cornell trailing by two, the 6-9 Coury used his size to nail the hook and tie the game for the fifth time in the opening frame. B.U.’s freshman guard D.J. Irving turned the ball over on the next play, putting it in Wroblewski’s hands for one last possession. Ski, patiently dribbling at the top, allowed the shot clock to wind down before faking a drive into the lane and rattling down his only 3 of the game at the buzzer to send both teams into the locker room with the visitors on top, 23-20.

After being held to just two points in the first half, B.U. junior guard Darryl Partin exploded for 30 points in the second frame — 17 straight came at the tail end of a 20-5 Terriers run — en route to a career-high 32. Partin was a blistering 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and made six clutch free throws down the stretch when Cornell was left with no choice but to foul.

“It was just my teammates getting me the ball at the right time,” Partin acknowledged. “Whenever you make shots it’s a confidence booster during the game, and just playing with a clear head.”

The opening minutes of the second half saw Ferry heat up from the perimeter, connecting on his second 3 of the contest to maintain a four-point lead for the Red. Five minutes later, B.U. turned the ball over and appeared to almost recover possession before Wire — making what former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue would have labeled a “Blue Clips” play — got the steal. Peck, who has shot just 3-for-15 over the last two games, would miss the ensuing jumper attempt, but an offensive rebound by the Red enabled sophomore forward Josh Figini to knock down a 3 — handing Cornell its largest lead of the game at 35-28.

That would mark the proverbial “beginning of the end,” however, as B.U. used a 20-5 run spearheaded by Partin’s efforts to give the Terriers an eight-point advantage (48-40) with 8:17 to play. Despite only turning the ball over 11 times throughout the contest, four of the Red’s miscues came during this seven-minute span.

And while Ferry’s 3’s may have kept Cornell in the game, they weren’t enough for a “W,” as B.U. didn’t miss a beat from the three-throw line down the stretch.

That’s not to say the Red didn’t make things interesting, though.

With 10 seconds remaining, Wroblewski drove into the lane for a layup to bring Cornell within three, 64-61. With the Red pressing on the next play, Ski managed an inbounds steal off a great defensive play in the corner and found Ferry for a last-ditch effort to send the game into overtime. Ferry’s one-footed, off-balance attempt proved well short, however, and was rebounded by the Terriers, who proceeded to convert both free-throw opportunities for a final score of 66-61.

“Off the steal it was kind of a scramble situation and we had to get a 3 to tie the game, so [Andrew] was looking to take it, and he just didn’t get it off,” Courtney said.

Cornell shot 35.7 percent overall for the contest and connected on only 9-of-28 from 3-point range — six of which were courtesy of Ferry. B.U., meanwhile, made 36.7 percent of its shots and posted a 38.9 percentage from the perimeter.

While the Red managed a solid rebounding night — grabbing 32 boards compared to the Terriers’ 40 — the team came up short on what could have been several game-changing occasions.

“We did a good job on the boards, which we’ve been struggling with, and then towards the stretch they had a couple put-backs and extra possessions … and that really hurt us towards the end of the game,” Courtney said.

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown