Game Preview: Siena At Cornell


Siena heads to Ithaca to take on Cornell of the Ivy League Friday Night. Tip off at Newman Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. Siena leads the series with the Big Red, 2-1. The two teams last met exactly 5 years ago (11/22/2008) with the Saints coming out on top, 74-56 at the Times Union Center. The game is the first of a 7-game stretch of away games for Siena.

The Saints enter the game with a 1-3 record following a 72-70 win over St. Bonaventure on Tuesday on a buzzer-beater by freshman point guard Marquis Wright. Freshman forward Lavon Long led the way with 15 points along with 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Sophomore Brett Bisping turned in an impressive performance with a career-high 13 points along with 7 rebounds. Evan Hymes added 10 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.

The Saints 48 1st-half points on Tuesday were the most scored by a Siena team in a half since 12/05/2009 in a win over UAlbany, a span covering 123 games. They are outscoring opponents 156-139 in the 1st half this season and have led at the half 3 times. They trail in second-half scoring 160-118.

As a team, the Saints have tallied more assists than turnovers in each of last two games, a feat that only happened twice all of last season. Opponents have attempted 60 more free throws (141-81) and are outscoring them 104-57 from the line, amounting to nearly 12 points per game.

Javion Ogunyemi is out for an estimated 7-10 days following an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday’s game. He will not make the trip to Cornell or Perdue on Sunday. Rich Audu who has missed the first 4 games, also with an ankle injury, is considered doubtful.

Despite being held to just 4 points against the Bonnies on 1-8 shooting, junior Rob Poole still leads the Saints in scoring with 15.5 ppg. Freshman Lavon Long continues to be consistent with 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He is the 1st freshman in Siena’s 38-year D1 history to score in double figures in their first 4 career games. Wright is averaging 5.8 assists per game on just 2.8 turnovers. Freshman Maurice White is the team’s leading free throw shooter hitting 23 of 27 (85%).

Cornell enters the game with a record of 0-5 following an 81-58 loss to Colgate of the Patriot League on Wednesday. 6-4 sophomore guard Nolan Cressler led the way with 19 points. 6-3 junior guard Devin Cherry had 12 points and 6-9 junior F/C Deion Giddens added 10.

The Big Red has certainly been challenged so far this season with two games against last season’s NCAA Final Four teams. They opened the season with an 82-60 loss to Syracuse, a game in which they led by 14 points in the first half and led at the half 38-32. They also fell to defending National Champions Louisville 99-54. Other losses include a 93-89 OT loss to Loyola and an 89-79 loss to Binghamton.

Three of the Cornell’s top five scorers are freshmen or sophomores and the three top upperclassmen have made a combined 23 career starts entering the year. Cressler leads the team averaging 17.0 ppg. and 6-2 freshman guard Robert Hatter adds 10.2.

Cornell was picked to finish in a sixth place tie in the 2013-14 Ivy League preseason media poll. They finished last season with an overall record of 13-18 and tied for 6th in the 8-team Ivy League with a record of 5-9 in the conference. Their only returning starter is 6-7 junior forward Shonn Miller, a 2013-14 first-team All-Ivy League selection. He continues to recover from an injury that has left him sidelined so far this season.

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