In a back-and-forth game, Cornell men’s basketball was able to take advantage of some cold shooting by Duquesne in the second half, holding on in Pennsylvania to improve to .500 with one game left before the break for final exams.
Despite trailing at halftime, the Red led by as much as 13 points multiple times throughout the second half. The Dukes were able to cut the lead to single digits in the waning minutes of the contest, but the Red clung to its lead for the 78-71 victory for its second win in a row and the first win over Duquesne in program history.
It was a similar story to games past, as the Red has relinquished double-digit leads but found ways to win in all three of its victories so far.
Cornell’s second-straight victory was powered by 56 percent shooting from the field and stout defense to deny the Dukes, which shot just a fraction over 30 percent on field goals in the second frame. The Red, meanwhile, has now shot over 55 percent in each of its last three games.
“We definitely take pride in trying to attempt the best shot we can on every possession, so I’m not too surprised with how well we have been shooting so far this year,” said head coach Brian Earl. “It’s good as a coach to see that our guys understand how we want them to play offensively, especially on the road.”
Junior guard Matt Morgan led the way for the Red with 24 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Junior forward Stone Gettings added 19 points, while transfer Steven Julian chipped in with eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks and one emphatic dunk.
Morgan’s performance places him in exclusive company, as he is the first member of the Red to score 20 or more points in five consecutive games since 1986-87.
As the reigning two-time Ivy scoring champion, Morgan is expected to have games of that nature. Gettings, on the other hand, continues to build on his stellar breakout sophomore season, with at least 10 points in his past three games.
More impressively, his 19 against the Dukes came in just 18 minutes of floor time.
“[Gettings] started a lot of games for us last year, and he is now finally 100 percent back from a knee injury,” Earl said. “He is always going hard when he is healthy, so we’re happy to have him back, playing major minutes for us.”
Jack Gordon came out of the gates on fire, scoring 10 first-half points on 4-5 shooting. He ended the contest with 12.
“[Gordon] is our most cerebral glue guy,” Earl said. “He does almost everything correctly when he is on the floor on both offense and defense.”
The bench, which had been a strong suit for the Red thus far, was rather quiet against Duquesne, as forward Josh Warren was the only non-starter to score. He finished the night going 3-3 from the field with eight points.
Cornell will look to extend its two-game winning streak, the first of its kind under Earl, when the Red travels to Boston this Saturday to face Northeastern for the finale ahead of the annual exam break.
“Obviously every game is important, and we have had two nice wins against higher level competition,” Earl said. “My hope is that we don’t take our foot off the gas at all and just get back to work this week. We are just taking it one practice at a time, and we will play our next opponent whenever that comes.”