The last two home games for the men’s basketball team did not go as well as planned. Coming off an emotional win over perennial powerhouse Princeton, the Red lost to Brown and Yale this weekend.
Brown came into Newman Arena on Friday with a four game winning streak. It left Ithaca with its winning streak intact as it came from as many as 10 back to defeat Cornell, 67-65. This game was completely different from the showdown in Providence two weeks ago where the Bears manhandled Cornell, 85-52.
In the first half, the Red knocked down its shots from all angles. Cornell shot 8-of-11 in the first 6 minutes to get off to a commanding 19-9 lead. After the Bears clawed their way back, senior Kevin Cuttica and junior Wallace Prather connected on three balls to put the Red atop 38-31 going into locker room for halftime.
The second half was filled with runs by both teams, as Brown went on a 9-2 run at the beginning of the half to tie the score at 40. Then Cornell went on a run of its own, with a 7-0 advantage to bring the score to 47-40. With the Red leading by four with seven minutes remaining, Bears’ sophomore sensation Earl Hunt took the game into his own hands knocking down a three ball, a jumper and a lay-up. His heroics gave Brown its first lead since the first minute of the first half, 63-61. Once the Bears grabbed the advantage, they never looked back and secured their fifth straight Ivy victory. Earl Hunt led all scorers with 23 points, while Prather led Cornell with 16.
The contest against Yale was Senior Night as the three tri-captains for the Red, Greg Barratt, Kevin Cuttica and Ray Mercedes, bid farewell to Newman Arena. The opening ceremonies were marked with the players’ introductions at halfcourt with presentation of commemorative plaques to their respective families for their dedication to the program. The emotion of the opening ceremonies, though, did not translate to a quick start from the blocks, as Yale took the early lead. The Elis maintained their advantage throughout and earned a hard fought 74-61 victory.
The first half was a showcase of the prevalence of Yale’s inside-outside strength of Ime Archibong and Neil Yanke. Archibong was perfect from beyond the arc, as the sophomore knocked down three trifectas. Senior Yanke was just as effective as he did his damage inside the three-point arc. Yanke gained position in the paint with his 6’11” frame and muscled his way to the hoop. The Elis took a 10 point lead going into halftime, 37-27.
“Archibong is a 20% three point shooter,” Coach Steve Donahue remarked. “Yet he knocked down three of them (in the first half).”
The second half did not prove to be any different as Archibong and Yanke continued their awe inspiring play. Archibong connected on another three ball to finish 4 of 5 from beyond the arc and 27 total points, while Yanke ended the contest with 21 points and 8 rebounds.
The Red competed with the Elis, but were unable to get over the 10 point differential hump. Between defensive lapses and contested offensive foul calls against them, Cornell was unable to amass a comeback.
“I am proud of the effort tonight. The guys laid it on the line,” Donahue sternly asserted.
This lay-it-on-the-line attitude was exemplified by senior tri-captain Kevin Cuttica. Though Cuttica was limited to seven points, on only 2 of 8 shooting, he repeatedly sacrificed his body for loose balls and represented why he is one of the most respected players on the team. Senior tri-captain Ray Mercedes also showed heart in his final Newman Arena performance as he accumulated 17 points and banged with the big boys in the paint. Mercedes stands in fourth place on the all time Cornell scoring list. The final tri-captain senior Greg Barratt was held to only 2 points in 16 minutes due to foul trouble throughout the contest.
Though the Red fell to 3-9 in Ivy play this weekend Coach Donahue had his troops playing hard nose basketball that inspired the crowd. The Red finishes its season on the road next weekend with games against Dartmouth and Harvard.
Archived article by Jason Skolnik