January 23, 2011

Men’s Basketball Loses Second Straight vs. Lions

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The Cornell men’s basketball team lost its second straight game to Columbia on Saturday, and the second straight by just four points. After being swept in the season series against the Lions, the Red fell to 0-2 in the Ivy League for the first time since the 2001-02 season — the last season in which Columbia swept Cornell.

Cornell (4-12, 0-2 Ivy League) continued its season-long habit of faltering down the stretch in contested games, losing 70-66 at Newman Arena in its Ivy League home-opener after falling, 79-75, Jan. 15 in New York City. The Lions (11-5, 2-0) made six straight free throws in the last minute and 15 seconds, as the Red missed the mark and failed to corral rebounds in the final handful of plays.

“We have to find a way to get that crucial stop or crucial rebound,” said senior forward and tri-captain Aaron Osgood, who had 16 points and six rebounds after scoring only 13 in the previous three games combined. “We’ve been in every game we’ve played besides against Syracuse practically, but we just have to learn to finish.”

Sophomore guard Brain Barbour scored 23 points for the Lions, making several tough shots to break down the Red defense. While Cornell was able to hold Columbia’s leading scorer, junior guard Noruwa Agho, to six points on 1-of-12 shooting after his 25 points last Saturday, eight other Lions got on the board to lift Columbia to the top of the Ivy League standings along with Harvard and Yale.

Junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewksi also scored 16 points for the Red, but was only 4-of-11 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range.

“I’m not satisfied with the way I’ve been playing the last couple of games,” Wroblewski said. “I can’t let other parts of my game fall because of bad shooting.”

Despite missing five of its first six 3-point attempts, and 13 of 16 overall, the Red jumped out to a 17-7 lead, held a 32-23 advantage and went up 63-61 on Wroblewski’s driving basket with 2:20 remaining.

But the last lead of the game for Cornell quickly disappeared when Columbia sophomore forward John Daniels hit a jump shot on the ensuing possession. Wroblewksi then turned it over and Daniels converted two free throws.

Afterwards, Red sophomore forward Errick Peck had his shot in the lane blocked by Agho, who made two free throws following an offensive rebound to give the Lions a 67-63 lead with 20 seconds left.

Peck, who missed his first seven shots from the field, shook off a slow start to finish with 10 points and six rebounds.“I think I may have forced too many shots throughout the game,” Peck said. “In the second half I was able to let the game come to me more, but overall I did not have a good offensive game.”Junior guard Andrew Ferry scored only five points after hitting double figures in seven of the last eight contests. He made 2-of-10 field goals — the fourth time this year he shot 20 percent or less in a game.The Red committed only 11 turnovers to Columbia’s 16 (the Lions shot just as poorly from long range), but was out-rebounded, 38-32, and out-played down the stretch.  Cornell has now lost by no more than five points in eight of its 12 defeats. “We’ve just got to move past these losses,” Wroblewski said. “We can’t get down on ourselves and must look forward to next weekend.”Having six ties in the final 15 minutes of a game, which is what happened on Saturday afternoon, is nothing unusual for Cornell. The Red just hasn’t been able to close out games strongly.“We really can’t lose any more games,” Peck said. “It’s disappointing the way this season has turned out, but there’s no such thing as ‘too late’. … We’ll just take it one game at a time and do everything we can to improve.”

Original Author: Quintin Schwab