The men’s basketball team’s woes continued this weekend as the Red (3-16, 0-6 Ivy) went on the road and lost a pair of games to Ivy League powers Penn (15-5, 2-2 Ivy) and Princeton (9-7, 4-0 Ivy).
On Friday night, the Quakers’ big trio of scorers, juniors Ugonna Onyekwe, Andrew Toole, and Koko Archibong, each reached double figures as Penn outscored Cornell, 75-63. The bulk of the damage was done in the first half. The Red trailed going into the break, 32-21 and shot a dismal 20.8 percent from the field.
Cornell was able to find its offense in the second half, shooting 50 percent including 55.6 percent from 3-point range. The Red even tied the contest, 36-36, with 15 minutes remaining. But Penn turned up its scoring as well, and a 42-point half wasn’t enough for the Red.
“I was very pleased with our effort, we played fairly well for most of the game against a very talented Penn team,” head coach Steve Donahue remarked. “On the road, we show we can do it for stretches but we haven’t been able to do it for 40 minutes.”
Senior co-captain Wallace Prather led all scorers with a season-high 26 points, and his backcourt mate, sophomore Ka’Ron Barnes, added 13 to the cause. Barnes grabbed five rebounds, and Prather recorded a career-best five steals in the contest.
“Wallace played very well in the Penn game, he made a lot of shots, he did a lot of things that put us in a position to win,” Donahue praised.
For Penn, Onyekwe and Toole pulled down a game-high six boards apiece, and Toole had five assists on the night.
While the Quakers dominated Cornell on the glass, out-rebounding the Red 38-27, Cornell came closer in the rebound column to the Tigers on Saturday night, trailing 32-30.
The problem for the Red in the 60-38 loss to Princeton was not the rebounding. Cornell had extreme difficulty getting on the scoreboard, and its first half troubles carried into the Princeton game in a big way. At halftime, the Red was behind by a 23-point margin, having scored just nine points, a season low for a half. Cornell couldn’t hit a field goal in the first 12:20 and only managed to shoot 2-for-18 from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ Ray Robins scored 18 points in the half, outscoring the Red on his own.
“We just didn’t get it done in the first half, and we just weren’t ready to go in the beginning of those games,” Donahue said of Cornell’s slow starts.
Robins finished with a career-high 28 points, and he was the only player in double figures in the contest. Cornell junior Randy Gabler and freshman King Ogbogu each had seven points, a career-high for Ogbogu. His classmate, Steve Cobb, tallied a career-high six rebounds. Princeton’s Kyle Wente notched seven rebounds, a game high, and Tigers guard Ahmed El-Nokali paced all players with five assists.
The Tigers, who entered the weekend as the only unbeaten team in the Ancient Eight, kept their conference record perfect and stayed atop the standings. Cornell, at 0-6 in the league, is tied with Dartmouth for last place. The Red and Green will lock horns on Friday night at Newman Arena.
The two losses extended a few streaks for the Red. Cornell has now dropped six straight games, having won last against Army on Jan. 5. The losses were the 14th and 15th consecutive road defeats, and eighth and ninth losses in a row to Ivy teams on the road. In addition, the Penn loss was the Red’s 13th straight defeat at the Palestra, a streak dating back to 1989. The Princeton loss was Cornell’s 17th straight loss at Jadwin Gym.
Cornell has already faced four of the top five teams in the league on the road. Now that the Red has the toughest portion of its schedule behind it, the team
can focus on the last eight games in the schedule. Donahue’s squad, which has a majority of freshmen, is still learning the ropes of Ivy League hoops.
“I do feel in stretches we improve, and unfortunately we’re playing some experienced basketball teams. The league is very good,” he said. “We’re just not good enough to win on the road. We have six out of eight at home and hopefully we can show how much we’ve improved.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman