Siena (1-3) at Cornell (0-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Newman Arena (4,473) -- Ithaca, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Siena 1-1, Cornell 0-2. Away Record: Siena 0-2, Cornell 0-3. Neutral Record: Siena 0-0, Cornell 0-0. Conference Record: Siena 0-0, Cornell 0-0. Series Record: Siena leads, 2-1.
GAMES NOTES: The Siena Saints will try to ride the momentum of a thrilling first victory when they visit the Cornell Big Red in an all-Empire State showdown at Newman Arena.
Marquis Wright hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to break a 70-70 tie and lift Siena to victory over St. Bonaventure on Tuesday night. The victory snapped a three-game slump for the Saints, who are now 1-3 on the year. This contest is the beginning of an extensive road trip for the Saints, who visit Purdue next before playing three straight games in Orlando as part of the Old Spice Classic.
Cornell is still in search of its first win of the season after falling on Wednesday in an 81-58 decision against Colgate. The loss was actually the 11th straight for the Big Red, who lost their last six games to wrap up the 2012-13 campaign. Cornell has played two games at home already. Its margin of defeat in those two contests was seven points, while the three road games have ended in setbacks by an average of 30 points.
There have been three total meetings between these programs previously. Siena has taken victories in two of those contests, including a 74-56 triumph in the last meeting during the 2008-2009 season.
Against St. Bonaventure, the Saints held a 48-38 lead at halftime but a 34.6 percent shooting effort in the final 20 minutes allowed the Bonnies back into the game. With the score knotted at 70-70 with nine seconds to play the Saints forced a turnover and after a timeout Wright was able to hit his game-winning shot.
Even though their record may not indicate it, the Saints have been a competitive team this season. They are suffering a negative scoring margin (-6.3) but they have yet to allow a team to score 80 points, while limiting opponents to just 41.1 percent shooting. Wright (5.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) is often playing with the ball in his hands as he runs the point for the Saints. However he is rarely called on to score, but rather distribute. Rob Poole (15.5 ppg) is the go-to scorer on the roster but he was limited to only four points on 1-of-8 shooting against the Bonnies after back-to-back 20 points efforts. Lavon Long (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is off to a strong start to his freshman season. The 6-foot-6 forward is shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and is the only player other than Poole to be scoring in double figures for the Saints.
Cornell was abused from beyond the arc in its loss to Colgate. The Big Red knocked down only four 3-pointers, while allowing the Raiders to net 11 shots from 3-point distance. The Big Red also let the Raiders score 24 points off of turnovers.
The defensive end of the floor has not been an area where the Big Red have excelled this year. Cornell is allowing 88.8 points per game on an even 50 percent shooting. That has left Cornell in some large holes early on, despite netting 68 points per game. Nolan Cressler (17.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is one of only two double-figure scorers for the Big Red with Robert Hatter (10.2 ppg) the other. Nessler tied for a game-high with 19 points against Colgate, but he needed 18 shots to reach that total. Hatter was held scoreless against the Raiders in just 10 minutes. Dwight Tarwater (8.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is the next best scorer on the roster but he is shooting below 40 percent from the field, although he does lead the team in rebounds.
Finding offense has been a struggle for both of these squads. Expect a duel between Poole and Cressler. With Long on his side, Poole and the Saints will have the advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Siena 67, Cornell 63
11/22 10:36:05 ET