Tiger basketball fans got a rare opportunity to watch both their men’s and women’s teams in a doubleheader Sunday. The women continued their amazing start with a 40-point thrashing of New Hampshire, 77-37. The Tigers’ Player of the Year candidate Bella Alarie enjoyed her 37th career double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes. Earlier this week the Tigers reached the USA Today Top 25 and received seven votes in the AP rankings. The Ivy slate opens on January 11 at The Palestra.
Mike Smith put Columbia on his 5-foot-11 frame and carried it to a much needed 68-64 victory over Lehigh Saturday afternoon at Levien Gym. The senior leader had 30 points, six assists (with only two turnovers), and drew 10 Lehigh fouls, five in each half.
“I just kind of mixed it up, I shot the three, got to the rim, hit a couple of pull-ups,” Smith said. “I just tried to change up the game, if I can score at all three levels, it’s kind of hard to stop it.”
The Tigers’ Division I debut at Lehigh can best be described as forgettable. The Mountain Hawks, surely one of the Patriot League’s elite squads, soundly thrashed Princeton Friday, 72-57.
Last season, at Jadwin Gym, Lehigh raced out to a 22-point lead at the end of what some believe to be the worst half of basketball in the Mitch Henderson era. Princeton came back to make a game of it but could not get over the hurdle the team made for itself.
This year, the scenarios were reversed. Despite woeful shooting (7-for-25, 1-for-12 from beyond the arc) the Tigers displayed tremendous defensive energy, holding Lehigh to 28 first-half points. The Hawks held a very manageable two-point margin at the break, 28-26.
Disaster struck in the first four minutes of the second period when Lehigh went on a 16-3 tear to lead, 44-29. Realizing the Tigers probably could not hit the lake from a rowboat, Lehigh coach Brett Reed deployed his team in a zone, daring the Tigers to make threes. Reed was right. The Tigers shot 4-for-32 from deep.
On Nov. 26, the Tigers raced to a 49-22 halftime lead over FDU, only to stumble across the finish line, holding on for an 83-76 win.
On Nov. 28, the Athletic Department conducted its annual 24-hour fund drive to raise money for the University athletic community (Tiger Athletics Give Day). The effort generated a record $2.45 million, of which about $150,000 was earmarked for basketball.
On Nov. 29, the Tigers entertained Lehigh in the renewal of a Patriot League rivalry against the other college team coached by Pete Carril.
Cornell will try to shake off its first home loss of the season and enter the exam break on a positive note as the Big Red welcomes its second straight Patriot League opponent to Newman Arena on Saturday. The task doesn’t get any easier: Lehigh comes to town as hot as any team in the country. The Mountain Hawks are riding their best start in 31 seasons. Since dropping its first two contests against BCS competition, Lehigh has been perfect, winning six consecutive games by ten or more. Cornell will have its hands full with junior guard CJ McCollum who has been the elite player in the Patriot League since he arrived in Bethlehem a little over two years ago.