A balanced attack and tough defense was too much for Cornell to overcome last night, as the men’s basketball team dropped its fourth-straight road game of the season to Lafayette, 57-43, in Easton, Penn.
“You really need a different mentality out on the road,” head coach Steve Donahue said. “This team has not shown they can win games on the road and unfortunately, we’ve only had one home game.”
Junior Andrew Naeve led the Red (2-4) with nine points and 10 rebounds, while senior Ryan Rourke and sophomore Khaliq Gant had nine and eight points, respectively. The Leopards (3-2) contained Cornell’s leading scorers, holding senior Lenny Collins to eight points and five rebounds and freshman Adam Gore to a single field goal. Both players had been averaging 13.7 points per game this season. Cornell was held to just 31 percent shooting from the floor.
Nine-of-10 players who stepped onto the floor for Lafayette found their way into the scoring column, with Paul Cummins and Bilal Abdullah leading the way with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Five players also had at least five rebounds for the Leopards, who edged the Red on the glass by a 38-35 margin. Lafayette had 10 steals as a team compared to Cornell’s four. Andrew Brown had five points and six assists for the Leopards.
Lafayette forced the Red into a season-high 18 turnovers, while giving up 16 of their own. However, Cornell had just 11 points from turnovers, while its opponent had 21.
“It’s all about execution. I don’t think Lafayette did anything in particular,” Donahue said. “We weren’t patient, we weren’t poised, and we allowed that lack of poise to really turn the game over to the other side.”
Senior David Lisle opened the scoring with a lay-up at the 18:27 mark to put the Red on the board, and the two teams battled back and forth over the course of a first half that saw five ties and five lead changes.
Abdullah pulled the Leopards even, 17-all, with a lay-up with 2:13 remaining in the half, and Lafayette’s outside shooters broke the game open with an 11-0 run before the break. The run included three treys, two of which came off of Cornell turnovers.
“That was a critical part of the game,” Donahue said. “I think both teams guarded each other evenly, we just didn’t need to turn the ball over there. They took advantage and found the open shooters.”
Lafayette held Gore and Collins scoreless in the first half, as the duo went 0-of-6 from the floor and combined for six turnovers.
The Red was unable to make up the difference in the second half, as the Leopards led by as much as 17 en route to the victory. Gore scored on a lay-up to start the Red off in the second half, and Gant added a 3-pointer, followed by two free throws from Rourke to cut the deficit to eight. But, that was the closest Cornell could get to the speedy Leopards.
“Lafayette has a lot of small, good ball handlers. They moved the ball well and when we made runs, they spread us out,” Donahue said. “We just dug ourselves too big a hole.”
Collins connected on a 3-pointer with 11:23 remaining to cut the Leopards’ lead to nine, but Lafayette answered with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to open up its biggest lead of the game, a 50-33 advantage with eight minutes left on the clock.
Freshman Jason Battle provided the spark for a Cornell comeback attempt, making a lay-up at 6:58 to start a 9-0 run by the Red. However, Naeve’s lay-up at 4:33 to finish the run proved to be the Red’s last gasp, as Cornell was held scoreless as time ran out.
Abdullah added two free throws and a jumper and Jamal Hilliard connected once from the charity stripe to finish up the scoring and give Lafayette the win.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor