For Steve Donahue, there couldn’t be a better way to earn his first victory as head coach for the carnelian and white.
“I hope they’re not all like this. This was unbelievable,” Donahue exulted.
Displaying the kind of heart any fan can appreciate, Donahue’s troops fought off a 16-point deficit with 10 minutes to play to pull off a triumphant 91–81 overtime victory over Army last night.
“I’m proud of our effort,” Donahue praised. “Everyone gave everything they could.”
Down 64–48 at the 10:05 mark in the second half, senior tri-captain Ray Mercedes led a 24–11 run, closing the gap to 77–72 on a layup. Sophomore David Muller then hit a trey from the corner to pull the Red within two. After a defensive stop, Mercedes drove in for the tying basket with 22.7 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
The break between periods could not save the fading Cadets as Mercedes and junior point guard Wallace Prather combined for nine points. An 11–2 advantage sealed Cornell’s first victory of the season.
“It’s a great win. It feels tremendous,” Donahue said.
“When we were backed into a corner, we were more aggressive,” Mercedes admitted. The Big Red held Army to 1-for-10 shooting in the extra time.
Mercedes had a particularly impressive game, leading the team with 23 points, despite playing with four fouls for the last 23 minutes. He moved into ninth place all-time in points scored. He now has 1,134 points to his name.
Sophomore forward Jake Rohe and senior tri-captain Greg Barratt greatly contributed to the team’s tenaciousness. Rohe recorded a career-high 13 rebounds. Barratt matched Rohe rebound for rebound and was particularly active on the offensive glass, giving Cornell seven second-chance opportunities. Both recorded their first double-doubles of the season.
The game started slowly as the first points were scored three minutes into the first half. Army then used a 56% shooting mark to take a 35–26 lead. But the Red would not go away as baskets by Rohe, Mercedes, and senior tri-captain Kevin Cuttica kept the team within three at the half.
Army used a 16–4 lead in the first four minutes after the intermission to take a commanding lead. Cornell’s early foul trouble gave the hot-shooting Cadets 16 free points from the line. Finally, with ten minutes left in the game, the Red offense came back to life.
“We had to chip away one second at a time,” Mercedes noted.
Freshman Ka’Ron Barnes was impressive in his first start, recording his fourth straight double-digit game with 11 points. The team as a whole shot 46% — easily its best of the young season.
Cornell now enjoys the confines of Newman Arena as it holds a three-game home stand. It will host Skidmore at 7:30 on Monday.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin