With two games left in the season, the Cornell men’s basketball team hopes to end its eight game losing streak in Newman Arena this weekend. Sitting in last place in the Ivy League, the Red looks to use these concluding games to improve as a young, cohesive unit.
Although Cornell (9-17, 2-10 Ivy) had difficulty coming out with victories against Penn (12-13, 6-5) and Princeton (20-5, 10-1) this past weekend, there were a number of positives from the games.
Junior guard Robert Hatter had a stellar offensive night against Penn, tallying 31 points. He was able to connect 12-of-21 shots from the floor, including 4-of-8 from the 3-point range. In addition, he managed to earn four rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Freshman Matt Morgan also had an impressive basketball weekend, setting new milestones. Morgan broke the Ivy League freshman record for most points scored. His 473 total season points surpassed Brown’s Earl Hunt, and he has two more games to further solidify this record. In the 17th week of the season, Morgan earned the Ivy League Rookie of the Week award.
“I feel pretty good,” said Morgan, on his recent accolades. “It comes from all the hard work I put in in the offseason as well as during the season. It feels good to put myself in the record books, especially the Ivy League record books. Just for that, I’m grateful.”
Morgan was successful against Yale in their most recent matchup in February, scoring a team high 20 points. Nevertheless, Morgan knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
“Against Yale, we did a bad job of closing off the shooters and making sure the ball [didn’t] get into the paint,” Morgan said. “We also need to come out playing a lot more intense. Yale came out in the beginning taking a lot of open shots, and that’s something we have to take away.”
The Bulldogs had an impressive night against the Red in their last showing, winning 83-52. Five of Yale’s players scored in double figures, and junior Jack Montague lead the charge with 16.
“Rebounding is always a big concern, especially against Yale on Friday,” said head coach Bill Courtney on the Bulldogs. “They attack the glass as well as almost any other team in the country.”
“We have a good mentality going into Yale,” Morgan said. “We just need to play a lot more intense than we have the past few weekends to come out with the win.”
Cornell also had trouble in its last showing against Brown, falling 86-80. Although Hatter, Morgan, junior guard Darryl Smith and sophomore forward Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof all scored in double digits, the Bears contained the Red’s offense and capitalized on their own offense.
Brown was led by center Cedric Kuakumensah in the last matchup, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Cornell was never able to gain momentum to charge ahead in the second half.
“I think we do a good job in the first half defensively because we’re close to the bench and we can hear everybody,” Morgan said. “In the second half, we need to come together a little more on the other end of the court, communicate, and get out on running transitions. It’s something we haven’t been doing a whole lot, but it’s something we need to be doing more.”
The season as a whole for the Red was less than ideal, sitting last in the Ivy League. However, with these last two games against the highest seed (Yale) and second lowest seed (Brown), Cornell still has much to gain from playing such diverse teams.
“We want to continue to roll and see some success by winning the game,” Courtney said. “When you see this youthful group do things well in practice, it makes you want them to see some success by winning the game and make all the things they’re doing add up.”
Cornell will finish the season on home turf this weekend. The matchup against Yale tips off at 6 p.m. on Friday, and the Brown game will follow the next day at 6 p.m.