November 24, 2014

MEN’S BASKETBALL | Red Finishes Tournament Without Win

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Cornell dropped all three of its games in the Charleston Classic to take eighth place in the event. The Red (2-4) lost to South Carolina (2-3) on Thursday, Penn State (4-1) on Friday and Drexel (1-4) on Sunday.

On Thursday, Cornell started the tournament off strong against the Gamecocks, connecting on its first four shots of the evening. In the first five minutes, the Red took an 11-9 lead. South Carolina’s star guard Sindarius Thornwell hit a three to give the Gamecocks the lead and from then on South Carolina never looked back. Cornell began missing shots and turning over the ball and five minutes later the score was 22-11 in favor of South Carolina.

Because of sloppy ball-handling by the Red, the Gamecocks had a 14-point advantage at the end of the first half. The Red had 13 turnovers and just one assist in the first half.

South Carolina started the second half with a 13-4 run and cruised to a 69-45 victory, at one point taking a 28-point lead over the Red. The 45 points scored by Cornell were a full 13 points below its previous season low. The brightest spot of the day may have been sophomore guard JoJo Fallas, who knocked down all four of his shots, including three three-pointers. He led the Red in scoring with 11 points.

Galal Cancer was the only other Red player in double digits, scoring 10, although it took him 13 shots to do so. After a hot start in the first two games of the season, senior forward Shonn Miller was held to below 10 points for the second straight game.

Overall, the Red shot a meager 29.6 percent from the field. The team was out-rebounded by 12 and out-assisted by 10.

Cornell seemed to have improved in Friday’s game against Penn State. Thanks to a balanced scoring attack, the Red took a 10-point lead early on against the Nittany Lions. Throughout the entire first half, Cornell seemed in charge. Four separate plays scored six or more points for the Red in that first half and the team as a whole shot 43 percent, including five of 11 from beyond the arc.

The Nittany Lions came out firing in the second half and quickly cut the lead to one. Sharp three-point shooting from the Red extended the lead back up to 11. Within six minutes, that lead also evaporated and Cornell maintained a slim lead for the next several minutes.

With 53 seconds left, a turnover by Devin Cherry caused a fast break attempt for Penn State. David Onourah sprinted down the court and blocked D.J. Newbill’s lay-up attempt off the glass. Cherry got the rebound and took the ball coast-to-coast and scored on an acrobatic lay-up, giving the Red a two-point advantage with just 44 seconds remaining in the game.

On the next Cornell possession, Robert Hatter was purposely fouled and sunk both free throws. Newbill countered with a pull-up jump shot. Cornell was fouled again, this time sending Galal Cancer to the line; he converted both shots. Geno Thorpe finished at the rim for Penn State, cutting Cornell’s lead to two with 16 seconds left to play. Cancer was again fouled and made both free throws.

On the next possession, Miller blocked Jordan Dickerson sending the ball directly to Penn State’s Ross Travis. Travis quickly passed to John Johnson, who knocked down the three-pointer, bringing the Nittany Lions within one point of the Red with four seconds to go.

Miller tried to inbound the ball after a timeout, but his pass, a lazy toss to half court, was stolen by Shep Garner, who then passed to Newbill. Newbill blew past Cornell defenders and scored the game-winning lay-up as time expired. He finished with a game-high of 26 points.

For the Red, Cancer and Hatter led the charge with 17 points apiece. Cancer converted all 12 of his free throws. Overall, the Red shot 95 percent from the charity strip. Miller had 15 and Cherry scored 11 points, and also had seven rebounds and six assists, both team-highs.

The loss sent Cornell to the seventh place game against a winless Drexel squad. In the beginning of the contest, the Red was dominant on defense. Cornell’s pressure held the Dragons to just 17 points on 18% shooting in the first half. The strong defensive performance allowed the Red to take a nine-point advantage into the break, despite a lackluster offensive showing, in which the Red shot 38 percent.

Cornell extended the lead to 14 early in the second half, but Drexel clawed its way back and tied up the score with eight minutes left to play in the game.

From that point on, it was the Damion Lee show. Lee, a 6’6” guard averaging 19 points per game, scored or assisted 15 of the Drexel’s final 20 points. He finished with 28 points, including 24 in the second half.

Cornell continued to try to extend its lead, but every time the Red made a shot, the Dragons answered with a made field goal of their own. Eventually, Rashann London made a jump shot that gave Drexel the lead with a minute and 35 seconds left in the contest. Cornell turned the ball over on two of its next three possessions and the Dragons held on to win, 61-59, taking seventh place in the Charleston Classic.

After starting the season by playing six games in 10 days, the Red continues its packed schedule of games with a home matchup against Canisius College (2-2) on Wednesday at 7 P.M.