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Cornell 50 Princeton 47.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Postgame audio - Pawel Buczak & Dan Mavraides:

In a game where both Cornell and Princeton had to work exceptionally hard to find open looks and uncontested shots, the Big Red fended off the Tigers all night and most importantly when it mattered most - at the final buzzer.

"Cornell's a good team," said Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson. "I think we showed what we're made of, especially on the heels of Saturday, where we disappointed ourselves [versus Brown]. Tremendous effort, I think that was pretty evident."

"Our guys responded pretty well in terms of how much harder they needed to play," Johnson added. "I was encouraged by that."

But for the second time in as many meetings, the Big Red grinded out a three point victory over Princeton, a win earned at the free throw line, where the home team shot 22-25 and 15-17 in the second half.

Cornell, who never trailed, made a season low 35.1% of their attempts from the field.

Even 7'0" Big Red center Jeff Foote, a 59.4% free throw shooter entering Friday, was a confident 7-8 from the stripe and finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-7 shooting.

"He's a 50% foul shooter and he made his free throws," Johnson said of Foote's performance. "All credit to him. That's his Achilles' heel and he made them. Jeff Foote made his free throws. God bless him."

Stout perimeter defense hounded potential 2009-10 Ivy League Player of the Year Ryan Wittman into 3-11 shooting and a 0-5 game behind the arc, but a pair of Wittman free throws with two seconds left after Dan Mavraides’ scooping drive cut the Cornell lead to a single point with just over four ticks on the clock provided the night’s final margin.

Mavraides, who was unable to get a tying three attempt from just inside midcourt up to the rim, had 13 points and a game best seven rebounds for Princeton. The Tigers outrebounded Cornell 31-25 and snatched 12 offensive boards.

Kareem Maddox added an acrobatic 11 off the bench for Princeton and Pawel Buczak had 10, including two large second half three point shots.

Princeton conceded the opening tip to Cornell, with forward Patrick Saunders jumping center against the substantially taller Foote. On the Big Red's first possession Foote backed down Buczak inside and earned a late whistle as he pivoted in the paint. Foote's first two tries at the line were on target.

Having already played one another 13 days ago and having drawn up scouting reports that highlighted the other's offensive tendencies, each team was well prepared for what the other was trying to do.

Buczak was tied up by Chris Wroblewski and Princeton's first possession ended with a Marcus Schroeder travel as he tried to drive into the lane with one on the shot clock.

Foote followed a Louis Dale miss to make it 4-0 and the Tigers turned the ball over on their next two possessions. Buczak was bothered and threw the ball into the Cornell bench.

Zach Finley, wearing a protective mask to cover his facial injuries from late last Saturday versus Brown, had a pass picked off by Jon Jaques, but Jaques gave the ball back to Princeton when he threw the ball into the stands on the break.

After three turnovers and one missed jumper, Princeton finally hit the scoreboard at the 16:39 mark when Mavraides found a sliver of space as he caught a Douglas Davis pass and connected from the top of the arc.

Princeton looked to force Foote to his right shoulder all game, and Finley fouled him on a dropstep. Foote made one of two from the line.

Schroeder bounced a pass to Mavraides in the lane for two and despite Princeton's trouble getting into their offense they were even at five.

Wittman caught and fired from the right elbow extended to put Cornell up two. Davis could not connect on a crossover three try and the player who beat him out for Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season, Wroblewski, took a pass from Mark Courey in the post and hit from behind the arc.

A Wittman three, launched over Mavraides, missed the rim and landed on the baseline. It was one of three airballs for Cornell in the first half.

Pawel Buczak's long two try was off from the right side of the arc, but Saunders grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Dale on the deep hook attempt.

Saunders' two free throws were offset by Foote, who scored off glass over Buczak.

Jaques was off target outside and Cornell slapped out the rebound to Dale. The Big Red went inside to Foote and Davis slid down to help on the baseline. Davis slapped the ball away from Foote, but was called for the foul.

Johnson, irate at the way the game was being officiated to this point, had to be restrained by assistant coach Tony Newsom, who hipchecked Johnson away from the officials and back to the bench.

Foote and Buczak were physical inside when play resumed, before Foote caught, got position and scored.

Princeton freshman Ian Hummer's wild drive down the lane was cut off by the torso of Jaques, who absorbed the easy charge.

Foote's backcut from the top of the paint did not draw attention and Foote had an unobstructed two-handed dunk to make it 16-7 Cornell at the 10;22 mark.

Looking for offensive consistency, Princeton found it off the bench courtesy Kareem Maddox. First Maddox drove with his right hand off glass. Then Maddox went high in the air from the weak side to follow a Saunders midrange jumper. When Davis faked a three to get Geoff Reeves off his feet, then had to adjust his shot mid-air but still hit when Reeves recovered as Davis stepped inside the arc, the Tigers were within three.

A Wittman jumper again missed everything and Schroeder controlled.

Davis had a chance to tie, but it sailed long. Finley had the rebound for a second, but possession was controlled by Adam Wire as Finley fouled him.

Alex Tyler's fadeaway jumper was answered by Davis, who faked a jumper and instead passed to Buczak inside for the easy layup.

Tyler airballed a hook shot, then Mavraides' pull up three at the top was short.

Foote went around Buczak and under the rim for two, which made it 22-15.

Maddox had an impressive drive to the hoop, spinning, banking and scoring while fouled by Tyler. His free throw drew Princeton within four.

Down by six, the Tigers finished the half strong.

Wittman traveled on a handoff screen when Schroeder got out to interfere. At the other end Schroeder drove, was bumped in mid air and still scored off glass. Wittman lost the ball and Schroeder picked it up, with Princeton signalling time.

Maddox's number was called again and he spun left, banking the ball home to make it a 24-22 game.

"We know he has an advantage on his man against most teams athletically, Mavraides said of Maddox. "He was able to get [his defender] on his side and go hard. I don't think he got a lot of calls and he played tough. He went up there and just finished really strong."

Johnson was more direct when asked about Maddox's difficult shots that led to nine first half points. "They were tough because he got fouled on them," Johnson stated. "I think he was pretty aggressive and we just tried to say to play through what was happening out there."

Foote found Wire cutting for two, but Schroeder answered dribbling left and pulling up with a jumper.

Wittman's attempt was long and Mavraides rebounded.

Princeton had the ball for the entire final minute of the half. Maddox could not convert, but got his own rebound. Buczak was off the mark, but Saunders controlled. The Tigers held for the final shot of the half, a Maddox three from the top of the arc. Maddox was 1-11 from three coming into Friday night and those numbers didn't get any better, his shot long of the intended target at the horn.

Foote scored 13 of Cornell's 26 first half points, yet the Tigers' defense felt better than it had been when Foote scored six straight early at Jadwin. Like the rest of the Big Red, with the exception of one easy slam, Foote was not getting patented easy drop-ins.

Princeton was 10-24 in the first half (41.7%), 1-8 from three (12.5%) and 3-3 at the line (100.0%). Cornell shot 9-21 (42.9%), 1-5 from deep (20.0%) and 7-8 from the stripe (87.5%). Both teams scored 14 points in the paint.

Foote finally missed turning to the left baseline and Schroeder rebounded.

A pass by Buczak to Davis was intercepted by Dale before Dale's jumper went out of bounds back to Cornell. Wroblewski was off the mark and Davis had a wide open opportunity to give the Tigers' their first lead from the same spot on the floor where he gave Princeton its only lead against Cornell two weeks ago.

He missed.

Wittman out of the far corner swung a pass to Wroblewski on the left arc and the first basket of the second half was eerily similar to the first basket of the second half at Jadwin. Cornell had a 29-24 lead. Wroblewski drove and left the ball for Foote to take the lead back up to seven.

An offensive rebound by Finley of a Davis miss was followed by a foul on Maddox, who was whistled blocking a Wittman catch and shoot deuce. Maddox stood in disbelief, then Wittman made both free throws.

Mavraides drove and kicked back to Buczak in front of the Princeton bench for his ninth three pointer of the season. After Reeves slipped, giving the ball back to the Tigers, Buczak left a bounce pass for Mavraides slashing into the lane and he was fouled by Jaques. Mavraides made one of two at the stripe for a 33-30 score.

Ian Hummer was bumped inside going up for a hook and Johnson's displeasure with how Princeton was being treated close to the basket began to boil. The fact that Schroeder was called for a reach in foul on Wroblewski six seconds later a good 35 feet from the net was too much for him to watch without a response.

First, the jacket came off.

Then, Johnson began to yell across the court at the officials, demanding the game be called evenly.

The end result was Johnson's first technical foul as a head coach. Wittman made both free throws, but Johnson had made his point.

"I'm not one of those get a technical to 'rah rah' the guys," said Johnson. "There were some things going on out there that the competitor in me felt that I did not want to accept. I encourage people who care a lot about Princeton basketball to watch that tape and maybe they might agree."

Johnson wasn't crazy about the next play either. Maddox drove and a whistle sounded. The near official looked ready to call a foul, but the far official saw it as a travel.

Trailing by eight, Princeton put together their cleanest offensive stretch of the evening. Finley was fouled by Jaques turning inside and made one of two at the line.

Wittman's entry pass was stolen by Finley. Maddox posted Foote and scored via the hook.

Cornell had a shot clock violation as the ball went into Foote late and he lost possession, the ball bounding around before time ran out.

Maddox inside went to Buczak from the far corner for three to make it a 38-36 game.

Foote was fouled by Maddox under the hoop and he again made both of his tries.

Mavraides snapped a three to draw within 40-39 at the 7:44 mark and Cornell called a time out.

When play resumed Wittman curled to his left for an easy layup.

Mavraides' line drive three to tie was short, but Hummer controlled in the center of the paint. Davis would lose the ball in traffic back to Cornell.

After Davis was too strong on a bank, Wroblewski was fouled driving at Buczak and made one of two. Davis would finish the game 2-12 from the field, 0-6 outside.

A split second hesitation cost the Tigers. Buczak curved to the hoop and was open under the rim. Finley was a hair late getting the ball inside and instead of the easy layup, Wittman had time to foul Buczak on the way up. Buczak was long on his first try and way short on the second, giving Cornell the ball with their 45-41 lead intact.

Dale got past Mavraides, but was too strong on his drive over the rim.

At the other end Buczak created space with a shudder move, then scored with his left hand.

With just over two minutes left Buczak came out to contest a Dale three. Buczak blocked the ball with his hand, but was called for the foul on the follow through. The normally stoic Buczak looked shocked at the whistle. Dale, an 83.7% free throw shooter, made all three of his chances with ease.

Maddox's hands were an unexpected place for Princeton's next possession to end, as an open Maddox tried to convert his second three pointer of the season from the right side. The shot was short and Finley was unable to save.

Princeton's defense had put them in this position, so Johnson opted not to foul and commanded his squad to play solid D. Cornell's possession ended with Wroblewski unable to pull up on the left baseline and Mavraides rebounded.

Mavraides drove down the lane and was fouled by Wroblewski, making both chances.

Again Princeton played defense. They would either get a stop or they would be down two possessions. It was in their hands. Wroblewski was off target and Finley went strong for the rebound in front of Foote.

Princeton called time out trailing 48-45 with :17 on the game clock. Unable to get a clean attempt to tie from the perimeter, Mavraides drove around Foote and scored on a scoop with just over four seconds remaining. The Tigers did not call time to stop the clock and Cornell quickly inbounded to the far corner, a Reeves pass coming back to Wittman after two precious seconds had disappeared.

The senior Wittman went to the other side of Newman arena and did what seniors do, knocking down both attempts.

Buczak's inbound was deflected over a leaping Saunders and by the time Mavraides came up with the ball on the left side, all he could do was turn and heave a jumper that was clearly short leaving his hand.

"It was interesting how the game played out," Johnson said of a game that followed a similar script to the teams' first meeting - with Princeton chasing Cornell all night and excellent defense taking away both teams' strengths.

"I talked to our team about how we really put our heart out there and played pretty hard and there was some stuff going on there that we couldn't control. That's a lesson that I think is good for our guys in terms of playing facing challenges in the future," Johnson remarked.

"There's not a guy out there that didn't play hard tonight for Princeton."

Playing hard isn't going to bring the Ivy League title back to Jadwin Gym this season, something a distraught Mavraides was well aware of after the game. Despite having a chance to tie or take the lead in the final seconds of both meetings, Princeton fell short both times.

"It is definitely frustrating," the junior guard stated. "This year you had to beat Cornell to win the Ivy League championship and we came up short.


-Princeton finished 18-47 (38.3%) from the field, 4-19 from behind the arc (21.1%) and 7-11 at the line (63.6%). Cornell shot 13-37 (35.1%), 4-16 in the second half (25.0%). The Big Red was 2-9 from three (22.2%) and 22-25 at the charity stripe (88.0%).

-Cornell players not named Jeff Foote combined to shoot 7-30 on the night (23.3%).

-Foote went an incredible 11-12 from the field against the Tigers this season.

-Princeton scored 18 points off Big Red turnovers and had 11 second chance points.

-The Tigers dished seven assists and committed 13 turnovers, Cornell's ratio was 9:10.

James Moore said,

February 26, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

Tough loss, but impressive that the Tigers could hang with Cornell on the road. 4-19 from behind the arc jumps out at me from the box score. Let's hope the Tigers bounce back tomorrow night and continue to fight to keep second place in the Ivies.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

February 26, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

One could speculate about the final outcome of the game had Coach J not fouled technically, but I am very surprised that he exploded like that, and somewhat disappointed in his post-game reaction to the outburst. As someone who has such high behavioral standards, demands, and expectations for his players, Coach J should have expressed some sense of remorse for lashing out and costing his team two very valuable points. It's very important as an educator and coach to lead by example; he did not do that today, and doesn't seem to care. If one of his players had reacted even 1/10th as strongly to a bad call, he would have been all over them with criticism and punishment. Today he not only acted inappropriately, but also took no responsibility for his actions and even continued to blame the game's momentum on the referees in the post-game interview.

Something as fundamental as shooting respectably from the free throw line (or not getting a coaching technical for that matter) could have won this game for the Tigers, so it seems pretty unsportsmanlike to place so much blame on the referees.

Jon Solomon said,

February 26, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

Two points:

1. Princeton really responded well to Johnson's technical. I think the players appreciated the way their coach went at the referees in their defense and they were fired up, playing some of their best offense of the night after the T. I think that without the technical, the game (both from an officiating standpoint and a performance standpoint) could have quickly gotten away from the Tigers. Instead the Tigers drew within two.

2. The game was called much more evenly post-technical then it was pre-technical.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

February 26, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

I did not see the game. I listened on internet-radio.

I appreciate the fact that things happen in the heat of the moment. I understand how my initial comment could be interpreted, but I did not mean to focus so much on anything that happened during the game. It's the fact that he still seemed to blame so much of the momentum on the officiating even after the game was over.

Yes, there was bad officiating, but there almost ways is.* Sometimes it hurts you, sometimes it doesn't. Fact is: getting a T like that is unbecoming of a coach.
Princeton gave up the game in so many simple ways that it seems disingenuous to really even mention the officiating in the post-game interview. Sinking just 2 more free-throws (I maintain that 7-11 is not where a team like this should be shooting) would have made the end-game scenario very different and much more winnable.

I also don't buy that the T was responsible for the Tigers' run. The game was played in spurts on both sides, and there was a similar run in the 2nd half when the Tigers went from being down 8 to being down 2 in a very short period of time, sans technical foul. Did the T play a factor? Possibly, but it's far from conclusive, given how the rest of the game was played.

* The final shot of the Brown @ Princeton or Penn @ Brown games were much more influential on the outcome of the games than a few no-calls here, but in those situations no one got T'd up or threw a temper tantrum (when perhaps they should have).

David Lewis said,

February 26, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

I don't have a problem with the technical foul. Sometimes a coach needs to light a fire under his team, and it seems like it worked for the Tigers. What does upset me, however, is the decision to take a two point shot with five seconds left when the Tigers trailed by three. Was this just a situation where Mavraides lost track of the clock? That sort of thing should never happen. Columbia now becomes the biggest game of the year. Princeton needs to prove that it can score points and win games. I hope they play more of an up tempo game like they did against Yale. They seem to shoot better when they take shots earlier in the shot clock. This strategy also would give them more margin for error.

Jon Solomon said,

February 26, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

I spoke to two people after the game who both praised Johnson for the timing and the use of the technical foul (which was the first of his head coaching career). One a former Princeton player and one a Cornell basketball insider who said following the game that he thought Johnson might be the best coach in the league.

Not to put words in Coach Johnson's mouth, but I would imagine the 7-11 line doesn't bother him as much as that he felt that his team should have had a higher number of attempts - especially by players like Maddox who are very good from the stripe - and that Cornell should not have gone to the line 25 times.

I won't disagree though, that Buczak's missed pair of FTs with 3:08 to play was rough (even though Princeton did follow that up with a defensive stop).

The T, which had been building all night, came after Hummer was bodied inside but then Davis was called for a reach on a Wroblewski crossover 35' from the basket. I think it was just the last straw for Johnson.

As for the final shot of Penn @ Brown, those in attendance tell me Jesse Agel went absolutely berserk, but officials aren't going to call you for a technical when:

1. There's no time left and the game is over.
2. They're running off the court to the locker rooms.

Time to finish my recap,


Jon Solomon said,

February 27, 2010 @ 12:14 am

One follow-up point from an interested party as I edit the HD box score:

"It's hard to lose when you out-shoot and out-rebound your opponent. Turnovers were an issue in the first half, but I'd be curious what your thoughts were on the officiating: Cornell is one of the worst teams in the nation in getting to the line (326th of 347) while Princeton isn't known as a foul-happy defensive team (141st of 347). But Big Red was +15 at the line tonight."


R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

February 27, 2010 @ 12:22 am

It seems pretty clear to me, from the events that transpired and how Coach J spoke about them upon reflection, that his outburst was not a premeditated attempt to bolster his team's spirits, but rather a genuine reaction to the one-sided officiating. It MAY have had the ancillary effect of inspiring his team to a nice run, but it seems silly to praise his coaching skills based on his kneejerk, emotional reaction. There are a lot of things this season and tonight that could make one think Coach J is the best in the League; I didn't speak to your sources, but for me, the T was not one of them.

I still stand by my main point, though, that it is a cop-out and unsportsmanlike to harp on the officiating in a post-game interview. There are so many internal shortcomings that lost this game for the Tigers that should be addressed first: bad FT shooting, frequent turnovers, shooting for 2 with 2.7 seconds left.

Even with the bad officiating, this game was still winnable, and they lost.

Jon Solomon said,

February 27, 2010 @ 12:34 am

I should have been more clear. The T was not the main reason why both praised Johnson. The scouting report, gameplan, how his team played, etc was also a big part of it.

Mavraides' layup came with 4+ seconds left. Not a great shot, but not a terrible shot. Princeton was unable to foul immediately on the inbounds, which let two more seconds tick away. A time out there might have helped.


Brian Martin said,

February 27, 2010 @ 12:54 am

The biggest foul call was the call on Buczak after the Dale missed three. They questioned the call on the radio call and said that Mavraides complained about it and then the ref got in his face and yelled at him. Anyway it was either a bad call or a bad foul. Getting that stop there was our best chance to tie or take the lead.

If anyone but Foote is Ivy Player of the Year they should do away with the award. Without him, Princeton would have won both games easily. Wittman seems to be quite guardable.

John Poole said,

February 27, 2010 @ 5:47 am

Tough loss and we're all disappointed. But, let's keep it in perspective.

Remember the Scott years? Remember how many Ts Yoda used to get? I don't honestly believe there was anything tactical about Sidney's T. We just all have our limits. Sidney Johnson is a class act. He sets a great example for his players.

I admit to wondering about the final 2. But, let's face it. We took a great team to the limit -- twice. And, our shots weren't dropping.

Two years ago we were 6 - 23. We've come a loooong way since then. Better days still lie ahead. Go Tigers!

james schenk said,

February 27, 2010 @ 8:25 am

I think coach Johnson has done a remarkable job bringing back the program to the brink of an Ivy title in a few short years. Losing these tough games may have kept Coach Johnson at Princeton as I can imagine a program like Depaul would be very interested in someone who can turn a program around so quickly by doing it the right way.

Fred Smagorinsky said,

February 27, 2010 @ 9:23 am

I agree with the comments that, although this was a tough loss and a winnable game, the big picture is encouraging. Clearly, Cornell is the class of the league, with a variety of offensive weapons and, along with the Tigers, the best defense in the Ivies. Princeton has twice played the top team in the league closer than anyone (except for their Penn debacle) and had a chance to win on their court and tie for the Ivy lead up until the final seconds. Nobody expected this much success so quickly under Coach Johnson and he and the team have come a very long way this year. Although the Brown game was a crusher, it fits the storyline of the season which is that Princeton is *almost* ready for prime-time. And the lessons from this campaign may well pay dividends next year.

I too was frustrated by the inability to get off a trey on the Tigers' last possession but Cornell bottled them up. In general, Princeton got very few good looks last night and it seemed like Doug Davis forced a few too many shots, although that may have been due to the shot clock winding down. As for Coach J's T, I don't remember any of his predecessors apologizing for getting after the officials and it was impossible to tell from the web stream feed whether he lost control or had decided more rationally that he had to make a stand.

I saw an interesting quote in the Ithaca Cournal: "You've just got to be tough mentally," senior Alex Tyler said. "They like to talk; they like to get in you. You just have to remain poised and just gut it out. That's what we did."

I was not aware that the Tigers are big talkers, is that right Jon?

Jon Solomon said,

February 27, 2010 @ 9:43 am


You hit on some good stuff in your comment.

Perhaps the best thing about last night's game is that it is the final time the Tigers will have to deal with Jeff Foote, Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale. The Ivy League is a far different landscape without them.

I can only think of one current Princeton player I'd describe as a "big talker." His talkativity is enough however to make Tyler potentially perceive the whole team is talkative!

Sleeping on the game overnight, I think my biggest problem with the officiating is that they often called the game based on preconceived notions about certain players, not based on the action on the floor.

On to Columbia!

Jack said,

February 27, 2010 @ 11:40 am

A coach should never complain about officiating? A coach should never get a technical foul when a game is being unfairly officiated? Having "high behavioral standards, demands, and expectations" of players is hypocritical if you get a technical foul as a coach? Not apologizing for a technical foul is "unsportsmanlike"? Absurd. What basketball planet does that come from.

Jim Waltman said,

February 27, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

I also watched the game on Cornell's live internet feed. Jon, you might want to indicate in your pre-game notes when such a feed is available from now on. I was pleasantly surprised that I could actually tell what was going on via the feed most of the time.

If the Tigers had taken care of the ball better in the first half, they could have emerged from the first half with a modest lead and the game might have followed a different trajectory. There were several times in the half when Tiger players made the fundamental mistake of leaving their feet with nowhere to go which led to a couple of bad looking offensive fouls (bad fouls, not bad calls) and a couple of other plays when Tiger players were stranded in air and just threw the ball away.

Final thought: the Princeton offense doesn't quite work unless someone can make 3-pointers. Maddox and Hummer have both shown signs of brilliance but neither can shoot from deep. I think I saw both in the game as "forwards" together last night and that it looked a little rough. Does one play "center" next year?


larry said,

February 27, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

Jon, I believe your comment that the foul call on Davis (35 feet from the rim) may have been the 'last straw' for Coach Johnson ties into last weeks Brown game. I thought that game was poorly officiated. It wouldn't surprise me if there was some exchange between our Athletic Department and the official's organization during the past week. As for Coach getting a T in Cornell - no problem.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

February 27, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

With so many "incidents" this year, I hope the Ivy League office gives serious consideration to instating video replay for next season. It would only take the purchase of 4 HD cameras (one for each simultaneous game) and four League representatives to operate them every Friday and Saturday.

It can make a much bigger difference in a one-bid conference like the Ivy League than it does in someplace like the Big East where half the teams make the tournament every year and one or two points in a few games probably isn't affecting the ultimate outcome that much.

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