The Cornell men’s basketball team stuck around for a half, but then Penn flexed its muscles and showed why the Quakers are the top-seeded team in the Ivy League.
After heading into halftime with the game tied at 31, Penn (19-7, 9-1 Ivy) quickly took control in the second period with multiple three-pointers and never looked back. The Red (10-13, 4-6) cut the lead to five points thrice throughout the half, but the Quakers responded each time to hold onto for the 79-71 win.
“In the second half we just couldn’t put together enough stops to cut into the lead [especially] once [Penn] saw a couple shots go in,” said junior guard Matt Morgan.
Following a back and forth affair in the first half, Penn was lights out in the second half, shooting 54 percent from the field and 58 percent from three-point land. In contrast, the Red fell off from a solid first half shooting performance with 48 percent from the field and 27 percent from downtown.
“They hit some tough shots [and] in that second half, they were just a little fresher than us,” said junior forward Stone Gettings. “They hit those 50-50 balls, they got some offensive rebounds and they were just tough to match because they were stringing together consecutive stops.”
While fatigue could be expected from the Red after coming off its thrilling triple-overtime victory against Princeton the previous night, the squad did not attribute its performance to tired legs.
“You can blame it on whatever you want, but in the end we were just outplayed,” said junior forward Stone Gettings. “It’s tough in the Ivy League and everyone’s legs were tired, but Penn also had a long bus ride and we were just outplayed unfortunately.”
“I don’t think [the previous game] was that much of a factor or really affected any of us,” Morgan added. “We all did what we needed to do in terms of recovering and we just didn’t have any of the intensity on defense.”
Freshman guard Terrance McBride highlighted the Red offense on a rare night in which both Morgan and Gettings struggled. The rookie had a career high of 14 points on a perfect six-for-six from the field and added four assists. Junior guard Jack Gordon also had a perfect game with 12 points on five-for-five from the field.
“Terrance … and Jack hit some big shots and helped us stay in it that first half when me and Matt were struggling,” Gettings said. “[All] the guys are getting more and more confident which is great for us.”
Morgan and Gettings finished the game with 12 and 11 points respectively.
With the loss, the Red falls back into the middle of a tightly-packed race for a postseason conference tournament bid. Cornell is tied with Brown and Columbia for fourth place, and remains one game back of third place Yale and one game ahead of seventh place Princeton.
The Red will play its last two regular season home games next weekend when it tips off against Yale on Friday, Feb. 23 at 7:00 p.m. and Brown on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 6:00 p.m.