March 4, 2012

M. BASKETBALL | Red Suffers Tight Loss to Crimson on Senior Night

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Four Cornell seniors ended their basketball careers this weekend, as Anthony Gatlin, Max Groebe, Drew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski were all honored before the Red hosted Harvard on Saturday. The Red (12-16, 7-7 Ivy League) routed Dartmouth (5-25, 1-13) on Friday, 70-57, but came up short after a furious rally against Harvard (26-4, 2-2), losing, 67-63.Wroblewski came out to a hot start against Dartmouth, hitting back-to-back threes to give Cornell an early 12-9 lead, but picked up his second foul in Dartmouth’s next possession. Although Cornell was playing without its star point guard, the Red barely skipped a beat as freshman guards Dominic Scelfo and Devin Cherry and junior guard Miles Asafo-Adjei gave a strong performance while filling in. Cornell outscored Dartmouth, 16-9, during Wroblewski’s absence.“When Dominic, Miles [and Devin] came in, they did a great job of keeping the tempo up,” Ferry said. “Miles is such a fast player, he can make things happen off the dribble and defensively. They did a nice job filling in until Wroblewski could get back in there.”Dartmouth ended the half on a 6-0 run, giving Cornell a slim lead going into the break, 28-24. When the second half started, the Red did not take its foot off the pedal, expanding its lead to 22 at one point, before Dartmouth closed the game on a 9-0 run to make the final score, 70-57, look much closer than the game actually was. Junior guard Jonathan Gray’s 3-point shooting and the energy off the bench were big factors in the win.“Jonathan gave us a little momentum with hitting those shots,” Wroblewski said. “But guys like Miles [and Cherry] off the bench [helped]; Devin got a few offensive rebounds and Miles pressured the heck out of all their ball handlers. They change the whole pace of the game; it’s different from me and Drew out there pressuring them, so that helps.”The Red played strong defense against Dartmouth, forcing the Green into 11 turnovers due to constant full court pressure and holding the opposition to just 6-of-23 shooting in the first half.“Last time we played them, we came out and jumped on them with our pressure and that’s been a staple of our team this year, getting after teams and speeding them up,” Ferry said. “I think eventually we wore them down a bit, in the second half, with our pressure. That was our goal to come out and play with that kind of intensity.”Cornell’s attack was led by Gray and Ferry, who had 20 and 16 points, respectively, and both hit 4 3-pointers a piece. Wroblewski finished the game with 12 points and 5 assists, becoming Cornell’s all-time assists leader in the process. He passed Louis Dale ’10 — who held the record with 470 assists — on a Ferry 3-pointer in the first half and ended his career with 482 assists.Against Harvard, the Red came out shooting ice-cold from the field. With 12:00 to play, freshman forward Dave LaMore scored a nice putback to cut Harvard’s lead to one, 12-11, but the team did not score again for six and a half minutes, when Gray scored on a lay-up off a nice pass from freshman forward Shonn Miller. Harvard built a 12-point lead during this time, but Cornell scored four quick points before the half to cut Harvard’s lead to six heading into halftime, 27-21.“In the first half, we had opportunities … we had a few shots that went in and out, we missed a couple layups and a dunk,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We had our opportunities in the first half; we just didn’t put it in the basket. I told the guys at halftime, [if we could put it in the basket], we should be winning the game, and we will start winning the game once we make shots that we normally make.”When the second half started, the lid was finally removed from Cornell’s basket, as the Red scored on six of its first eight possessions, going on a 13-5 run to give the Red the lead, 34-32. Crimson guard Brandyn Curry quieted the crowd by making three huge 3-pointers in a two minute span to rebuild Harvard’s lead back to seven. Before this game, Curry was shooting just 24 percent of the time from the three.“I have to give a lot of credit to Brandyn Curry, he stepped up and made humongous plays down the stretch,” Courtney said.The Red put together one more run at the end, completely manufactured by Wroblewski. With 6:13 to play, Harvard led 55-44, but Wroblewski responded in a big way, hitting two 3-pointers and handing out three assists within three minutes to cut the lead to one, 56-55, with 3:54 remaining. However, Crimson guard Oliver McNally hit a clutch three and Wroblewski missed two free throws at the end to give Harvard the win, 67-63.When asked about Wroblewski’s performance, Courtney was almost out of superlatives to describe him.“You can’t ask more from a guy than what you got from him,” Courtney lauded. “He gave 110 percent, if that’s possible, but he gave 100 percent of what he had every single night and this last game he showed it. He almost willed us to a win tonight, just by wanting it more than anybody else on the floor.”Despite the tough loss to end his Cornell career, Wroblewski made a huge impact on the Cornell basketball program and is the last remaining link to the Sweet Sixteen run of 2010.“It’s hard for me to fathom the kind of experiences and memories that I’m going to walk away from this program with,” Wroblewski said. “Four years ago, when I committed to Cornell, none of this was in the back of my mind … and to experience some of the things I have, it’s just surreal and I feel like I’m living a dream.”

Original Author: Albert Liao