Cornell started its 2012-13 campaign on a strong note, winning the first game of the season, 63-55, against the Western Michigan Broncos (0-1) at Newman Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Red (1-0) was propelled by an aggressive defensive effort, which included 13 blocked shots — one shy of the team’s all-time record. The squad also recorded eight steals in the game.
Although the team’s defense was a crucial part of its victory, the Red committed 19 personal fouls and gave the Broncos the opportunity to make a number of 3-point plays late in the game.
“We’re going to have to keep [the other team] off the foul line,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “That’s going to be a point of emphasis for us.”
On the offensive end, the Red benefited from a solid game by freshman guard Nolan Cressler, who went 7-12 from the field and scored a game-high 20 points. Of the six 3-pointers that Cressler knocked down, his last one came after a timeout with 1:44 left in a 5-point game.
The play was designed so that sophomore guard Galal Cancer would penetrate, attract Cressler’s man and then kick it back to Cressler for the three. The crowd exploded when they watched Cressler’s shot hit the back of the net.
While Courtney said that he was impressed with Cressler’s game, he was confident of the freshman’s abilities entering the game.
“It’s hard to expect a guy to get 20 [points] in 18 [minutes],” Courtney said. “But … we know he’s going to have some days like that. The other day in practice he went 11-for-12 from three.”
The game also featured the return of senior forward Errick Peck, who was a key player on the 2010-2011 squad but was sidelined all of last season with a knee injury. Peck scored 10 points and hit two free throws to give the team a six-point lead with 23 seconds to seal the victory for the Red.
“He’s in the form he was before he left,” Courtney said, expecting Peck to have a big season.
The 2011-12 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Shonn Miller scored nine points and went 5-of-6 from the free throw line. His six blocks were instrumental in the team’s defensive effort. He finished last season with 48 blocks — an all time team-high for a freshman.
The Red faces off against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on the NBC sports network. The Bonnies are 1-0 after a victory on Friday in their home opener against Bethune Cookman.
In their first game, the Bonnies had three players score in double digits. Senior guard Eric Mosley had 14 points, junior guard Matthew Wright had 13 points and forward Demitrius Conger dropped 12.
“We’re going to play a pretty good team coming up on Wednesday,” said sophomore guard Galal Cancer.
The Red is poised to come out with a victory and confident in their deep squad this season, according to Cancer.
“Even big-man wise, we have a lot of depth,” he said. “We’ve got a good core of guys this year.”
With a non-conference schedule that pairs Cornell with powerhouses like Duke, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, the Red looks to improve in every game and to prepare for battle in a competitive Ivy League this season.
Original Author: Skyler Dale