Rarely does a 10-point win leave the Lion Loyalists as unsatisfied as it did on Saturday night in Upper Manhattan – the aura around the post-game press conference was indicative of that.
Despite Cornell’s late-game run sparked by a full-court press and a small lineup, Coach Smith was proud of the way his team fought through the adversity saying, “We went through some tough ones like that last year and didn’t get it done, so hopefully [this win gives us] a little confidence moving forward.”
The Lions began the night hitting 3-4 from three, taking advantage of a Cornell defense that was overplaying the backdoor cuts and providing open looks off of handoffs and down-screens. But after a David Onuorah (6 pts, 4 rbs) rim-rattling dunk, another Onuorah put-back layup, and a Devin Cherry (16 pts) old fashioned three-point play, the game was tied at 21 with 2:59 left in the first half. A pair of “and-1s” from Alex Rosenberg, followed by a Maodo Lo layup got us to halftime, just 29-26 Columbia.
Led by Rosenberg’s 20 points, and Mullins, who finished 11-13 from the free-throw line, with 19, the Lions looked under control in the beginning of the second half. Though the normal three-point onslaught wasn’t there, backdoor cuts were – leading to layups and free throws for the Lions, who opened up a 58-40 lead with 6:01 left.
Then Nolan Cressler woke up. He scored 9 of his 10 points in a 1 minute and 33 second stretch, cutting the deficit to 9. But it wasn’t enough. Despite a few forced turnovers, Cornell never got the game closer than six. The Lions converted a healthy clip at the line all game, going 26-31 (84%). The game ended 71-61.
“There’s no way they’re the worst team in Division I…to us, they were 0-0,” said Alex Rosenberg, speaking diplomatically of the Cornell Big Red. According to Ken Pomeroy, Rosenberg is right; they’re not the worst. Cornell, at 1-14 – their only win over Division III, Oberlin – ranks 345 out of 351 after last night’s performance.
Through Kyle Smith’s bright lens, his team maintained its composure through adversity. To many others, the Lions looked shaky down the stretch, and vulnerable to full court pressure.
Though this was a 10-point victory, it left most with a sour aftertaste.
Columbia’s next 5 games are on the road. After traveling to Ithaca next Saturday for a rematch against the Big Red, Columbia has two tough road trips: Yale/Brown, and Princeton/Penn.
- Columbia is 8-1 when at least one of Mullins, Lo, or Rosenberg scores over 20 points
- Columbia shot 5-17 from three (29.4%)
- Columbia is ranked 16th in the nation in 3-point shooting at 40.4%
- Three Cornell guards fouled out: Cressler, Matthews, Hatter
- Attendance was a healthy 2,445
- Smith used a short rotation–only seven Columbia Lions played over ten minutes: Osetkowski, Rosenberg, Lo, Cohen, Mullins, Petrasek, and Lyles
- Cornell leading scorer, Nolan Cressler, was scoreless until 10:15 in the second half
- Going 5-6 in last nights game, Issac Cohen (10 pts, 8 rbs, 5 ast) is 3rd in the country in Effective Field Goal Percentage, at 69.3%
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