February 27, 2011

Men’s Basketball Close Win Over Penn Highlights Red’s Split Weekend

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Senior forward Mark Coury hit a 10-foot jumper off an inbounds pass with 34 seconds remaining to push the Cornell men’s basketball team to a 74-72 victory at Penn Saturday night, as the Red bounced back from an 84-66 defeat to Princeton Friday night.

Coury led Cornell (8-18, 4-8 Ivy League) with 13 points against the Quakers (12-13, 6-5) on 5-of-7 shooting, matching his career-high from the night before.  This weekend there were no two-pointers bigger than Coury’s jump-shot in the final minute with the shot clock winding down.

“It was a pretty tense moment,” Coury said. “Coach drew up a play to have me set a back-screen and roll off it. [Sophomore guard Errick Peck] was guarded, [junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski] passed me the ball and I had one second to get it off. Call it luck or whatever — it was a big shot. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

“Mark takes that shot a lot during practice,” Peck said, after scoring 18 points on the weekend. “We got the ball inside and he made a huge shot.”

“It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up, but Mark made a great shot,” Wroblewski added.

It was the Red’s second victory of the season by a margin of five points or fewer, compared to 10 such losses.

Penn senior guard Tyler Bernardini missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer, which could have capped a furious comeback by the Quakers. Cornell led the majority of the game, and held a 46-31 advantage three minutes into the second half.

Quakers freshman guard Miles Cartwright hit a floater in the lane with 1:14 to play, giving the home team its first lead of the second half, 69-68. Coury responded on the ensuing possession, then Cornell nailed 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to escape the Palestra with a season sweep of Penn.

The game against league-leading Princeton (22-5, 10-1) on Friday night was had little in common with the Red’s Saturday night victory over Penn. In that matchup, the Tigers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, let Cornell crawl back into the game and then pulled away with a 23-5 run in the last 11 minutes for the 18-point win.

Princeton shot a sizzling 62.3 percent from the floor while hitting 10-of-18 3-point attempts. The Tigers made only 1-of-8 tries from distance in the matchup in Ithaca on Feb. 12 — a 57-55 Princeton triumph.

“[Against Princeton] we were able to fight hard and stay in the game, but we made too many errors and let the crowd get into it and they pulled away,” Peck said. “[Saturday night] we made a lot fewer mental errors and were able to come out with the win.”

After making only 37 percent of its shots Friday night, Cornell turned the tides against Penn, hitting 51.9 percent from the floor and assisting on 25-of-28 baskets. Wroblewski had 11 of the assists, overcoming a woeful shooting night (1-of-10 field goals).

“I had to do something to help the team,” Wroblewski said. “My shooting wasn’t working for me. But as a team, we did a great job of giving people the ball in scoring opportunities and people hit shots.”

Wroblewski led all Red scorers against Princeton with 14 points, while dishing out seven assists, grabbing four rebounds and stealing four passes. Tigers sophomore forward Ian Hummer had a game-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

“We let one guy (Hummer) beat us a little too much,” Peck said.

Against Penn, junior guard Andrew Ferry trailed Coury with 11 points and Peck chipped in 10. Senior forward and tri-captain Adam Wire and senior guards Max Groebe and Anthony Gatlin had eight apiece.

The Cornell bench outscored Penn’s 49-20, as the Red was able to overcome a 34-23 rebounding discrepancy — 23 points from Cartwright and 22 points from junior guard Zach Rosen. Senior forward Jack Eggleston was limited to four points — his fourth straight single-figure scoring game — after scoring 21 in the Red’s 11-point overtime win on Feb. 11 against Penn.

Ten different players scored for the Red in its last game. For Cornell, the main focus right now is on improvement, especially with only one home weekend remaining on its 2010-11 schedule.

“I think we’re making a lot of strides,” Peck said. “We’ll be much better next year.”

“I’ve just tried to go out and help the team improve as much as I can,” Coury said, when asked about his improved play the last couple weekends. “I want to leave this team in a position to have success in the future.”

Original Author: Quintin Schwab