The men’s basketball team went on the road to face Dartmouth and Harvard this past weekend with the hope of improving upon last year’s Ivy record. Having lost to both the Crimson and Green in Newman Arena, the Red looked to give both a taste of their own medicine. Instead, the team closed with the same dismal 3-11 conference record as last year.
With little to play for except pride, the Red tried to rally behind the three senior tri-captains Ray Mercedes, Kevin Cuttica and Greg Barratt so they could end their college careers with a win.
“You don’t get too many chances to play basketball while you’re in college,” head coach Steve Donahue said. “There are 27 of them [per year], and there’s a lot of motivation to play and win because of the privilege to play for your college.”
Inconsistency has been the bane of the squad for the most part of the 20 overall losses, and that certainly led to the Red’s downfall over the weekend.
“[Inconsistency] is something’s that’s plagued us all season,” Donahue lamented. “We haven’t played 40 good minutes most nights.”
On Friday, the men traveled north to Hanover, N.H. to take on Dartmouth. The Green (8-19, 3-11), who tied Cornell for last in the Ivies, had beaten the Red 58-53 on Feb. 3 in Newman Arena. The cagers could not contain the Green away from Ithaca, falling 60-57.
While Greg Buth leads Dartmouth in total points per game, it was starting forward Vedad Osmanovic who consistently hurt the Red with his 3-point shooting prowess (4-8). He ended up with a game high 19 points.
Despite going into the half with a ten-point lead, the Red could not sustain its level of play. The first 20 minutes saw the team hit over 43-percent of its field goals, while only 27.6-percent of shots went into the basket in the later 20 minutes.
Barratt suffered an ankle injury in the first half as the Red lost its strongest presence in the post. Having little to no inside game, the squad attempted almost half of its baskets from beyond the arc (23-59).
Upon hearing the above mentioned statistic Donahue noted, “That’s obviously too many. We were too impatient, we couldn’t take care of the ball and relied too much on the outside shot.”
Dartmouth’s Flinder Boyd tied the game at 46 a piece with 7:44 remaining, and relinquished control of the rest of the contest. Freshman Ka’Ron Barnes sent up a three as time ran out which could have sent the game into overtime. Unfortunately, Barnes missed all three of his 3-point attempts, and Dartmouth prevailed.
Mercedes had a double-double in the effort, with 11 rebounds and 18-points. Barnes was the only other Cornellian to finish in double digits as he went 5-13 from the field for 16-points.
The following evening the squad journeyed southeast to Harvard to play the season finale.
The Red played reverse to the night before, digging itself into a 48-34 hole before fighting back after half-time. Still the team could not overcome the 14-point disparity. Harvard won 93-84. The Crimson (14-12, 7-7) ended the season fifth in the league.
Three of Harvard’s starters scored 17 points as the team shot 56-percent for the game against Cornea’s poor defense.
“We were down emotionally going into Harvard,” Donahue noted. “In the first half, we did not play with enthusiasm. They pushed the ball, and we were stagnant [against them].”
One senior will leave Cornell with his name firmly enscribed in the history books. Mercedes, a four-year starter on the basketball team, garnered 37 points in the final game in Cambridge. With that strong performance, he moved 29 points ahead of Ken Bantum ’85 and into second place on Cornell’s all time scoring list.
“Ray was playing very well against Harvard and Dartmouth,” Donahue said. “He played unselfishly and intensely.”
Archived article by Amanda Angel