November 13, 2011

M. BASKETBALL | Bonnies Dominate Second Half to Earn Opening Night Win

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After a white-hot shooting display in the first half against St. Bonaventure left the Red trailing only by two heading into halftime, 40-38, Cornell lost its shooting touch in the second half, eventually falling to the Bonnies, 79-58.

In the first half, the Red (0-1) shot 52 percent from the field and a gaudy 57 percent from 3-point land — converting 8-of-14 attempts; however, the Red missed all six of its 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes, and shot just 30 percent from the field.

“We missed our first six 3s in the second half and trailed away from it, but coach reminded us [Saturday] in practice that [3-pointers] are one of our staples,” said senior co-captain and guard Drew Ferry. “It is something that we have to rely on and we can’t really get away from. Give credit to St. Bonaventure for playing good defense, but if we would have shot better in the second half, it would’ve been a closer game.”

While the Red relied on the 3, the Bonnies used their size advantage and secured some easy points close to the basket. In the first half, St. Bonaventure worked its way inside, scoring 18 points in the paint — compared to just six by Cornell — and converting 11-of-14 free throw attempts.

Despite the contrast in styles, the two teams played an evenly matched first half, with the lead changing hands 14 times and neither squad leading by more than four points. The half ended on a jumper by sophomore forward Dwight Tarwater that was reviewed before the officials finally counted the basket, shrinking Cornell’s deficit to 40-38 at halftime.

However, the Bonnies started to pull away after the break, putting together a 15-4 run in the first eight minutes. St. Bonaventure displayed a team effort during this run, as five different players scored. Power forward Andrew Nicholson scored 10 points on a series of layups, jumpers and impressive post moves to end any chances of a Cornell comeback.

Nicholson led St. Bonaventure’s attack, scoring 24 points and chipping in with five rebounds and two blocks. The Red acknowledged Nicholson’s dominating presence, and was not surprised that scouts consider him an NBA prospect.

“Andrew Nicholson is a great player,” Ferry said. “He can shoot from mid-range, has great post moves and is able to draw fouls. He’s going to be a big player for them, and I think he is a projected NBA draft pick. We battled as hard as we could, but he was just a little too much for us.”

“He’s definitely a really good player,” added junior forward Eitan Chemerinski. “We just tried our best to limit his touches and keep him off the offensive glass.”

The Bonnies also held the advantage on the boards, outrebounding Cornell, 35-26. The Red also did not help its cause by turning the ball over 18 times.

“We had 18 turnovers, which is very uncharacteristic for us, especially because we’re so good at handling the ball,” said senior co-captain and point guard Chris Wroblewski. “A lot of those were aggressive turnovers where we’re sprinting for layups and just missed the pass a little bit … We definitely have to cut that down and just be a little smarter next time.”

The team felt that the turnovers were a result of both the defensive pressure applied by St. Bonaventure as well as some opening night jitters.

“I think it was a combination of things,” Chemerinski explained. “They played really tough defense, but also I think as the season goes along, we’ll be sharper and minimize some of those mental mistakes.”

Wroblewski, the lone starter remaining from Cornell’s 2009-10 Sweet 16 run, shot the ball only twice from the field, missing on both attempts. The senior guard scored 25 of Cornell’s 54 points in last season’s matchup with St. Bonaventure. Wroblewski finished with four points, all from the free throw line, but recorded a game-high eight assists.

“I don’t think I go into a game thinking I want to pass this amount of times and shoot this amount of times — I don’t have any numbers in mind. It was more so what the defense gave me,” Wroblewski said. “St. Bonaventure did a great job on everybody … we wanted to play fast-paced, up-tempo and score a lot of points, [but] they took us out of that … They pressured me most of the game which kind of took me out of my game a little bit.”

One player who impressed, according to Ferry, was freshman forward Shonn Miller. In his first collegiate game, Miller hit all three of his field goal attempts — including one from downtown — and recorded a team-high four rebounds and one block.

“Shonn Miller stepped in there as a freshman and played some good minutes for us after getting back from a knee injury,” Ferry said.

The Red featured a balanced attack attack on Friday night, as six players scored more than six points, but only one — junior forward Josh Figini, who scored a team-high 10 points — reached double figures. Additionally, head coach Bill Courtney played all 14 players who suited up for the game.

Cornell looks to get back on track Monday night in its home opener against Binghamton at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.

Original Author: Albert Liao