February 25, 2002

Men's Hoops Wins First Road Contest of Season

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A road trip that began on the wrong foot for the men’s basketball team (5-20, 2-10 Ivy) ended up being the most successful jaunt this season. In the Red’s last away game of the season, the team beat Dartmouth (9-16, 2-10 Ivy), 70-61, for its first road victory this year. The win came a day after a flat outing at Harvard (7-5, 14-10 Ivy) which resulted in a 55-46 loss.

On Friday, Cornell ventured into Lavietes Pavilion in Boston to clash with the Crimson, which needed to win both games this weekend in order to stay alive in the Ivy League title chase.

A dismal offensive first half for both teams resulted in a 19-16 Harvard lead at the break. The Red shot just 21 percent in the first half, and the Crimson wasn’t much better at 28 percent.

“We didn’t have a lot of continuity to our offense,” noted senior co-captain Pete Carroll. “We weren’t in an attacking mindset.”

Solid rebounding by Cornell kept the squad in the contest. The Red outrebounded Harvard, 36-35, taking care of a problem that has plagued the team all season.

In the second half, though, the problem was containing the Crimson’s Sam Winter and Tim Coleman. The pair netted 19 points in the latter half, and their team picked up its shooting, making 67 percent of its shots in the second frame.

Harvard took off on a 13-2 run to begin the half, and despite a personal 11-0 run by Cornell junior Jacques Vigneault, the Red was unable to claw back into the contest. Vigneault’s 11 points led Cornell, while Winter paced the Crimson with 12. The Red held Harvard’s leading scorer, guard Patrick Harvey, to a mere six points on the night.

Cornell’s downfall was ball control, as the Red had trouble passing and coughed the ball up 22 times, including several key turnovers late in the game which enabled the Crimson to pull away.

“We didn’t play well. We didn’t share the basketball,” remarked head coach Steve Donahue.

Harvard also defeated Columbia on Saturday night. The two Crimson wins, coupled with a pair of Yale losses, kept Harvard mathematically alive in the hunt for the conference championship.

On Saturday, Cornell visited Hanover, N.H. in its last road game of the season, which was also Dartmouth’s final home contest. The Green’s two seniors, Flinder Boyd and Vedad Osmanovic, were honored on senior night at Leede Arena.

Despite the day’s dedication to the upperclassmen, it was the freshmen who made the biggest impact on the contest. Donahue played four rookies (Steve Cobb, Grant Harrell, Eric Taylor and Cody Toppert) in the starting lineup for the first time this year. The move paid off quickly, as the Red jumped out to a 20-0 lead, thanks largely in part to three 3-pointers by Carroll.

“We made sure we came out with a great start. Their senior night festivities played into our hands,” Donahue observed, noting that the ceremonies might have distracted Dartmouth from the task at hand.

Dartmouth did not go quietly, though, as it responded with an 11-0 run of its own. At the half, Cornell led by a 34-22 margin.

In the second half, the Red brought its lead out to 16 points, but again the Green was able to fight back, cutting the Cornell lead to five late in the game.

However, the freshmen were able to hold off Dartmouth. Taylor scored on a putback and Toppert buried two free throws, while senior co-captain Wallace Prather hit a pair of free throws to bring the Red’s score to 70.

Carroll added another score from behind the arc to give him a career-high 12 points, and Cornell nailed 11 3-pointers on the game to push its season total to 188 trifectas, a school record. The previous mark was 186, established by the 1995-96 squad.

The Red continued its rebounding success from the night before, dominating the Green on the glass. Taylor and Toppert had eight boards each as Cornell outrebounded Dartmouth, 41-19.

“It’s a sign that we haven’t quit at all. We won that game because we wanted it more,” Donahue stated. “We did a good job of offensive rebounding, we did get to the hole, and we were determined.”

Boyd and Osmanovic led their team in scoring in the game, netting 16 and 15 points, respectively. Boyd’s 16 pushed him above the 1,000 point plateau for his career.

The win ended a 17-game slide on the road for Cornell and gave the Red a final road record of 1-13 on the season.

“We knew we had to come out strong,” said Carroll. “We needed to prove it to ourselves, and we needed to prove it to everybody that we could win on the road.”

Cornell takes the floor for its final two games of the season next weekend when it hosts Princeton and Penn. In addition to the Quakers game being the Red’s senior night, the two games will have serious implications in the Ancient Eight standings. Both the Tigers and Penn are in the group of four teams at the top of the league that are still in contention for the Ivy crown.

“We have the opportunity to play the spoiler,” Carroll said of next weekend’s contests.

Archived article by Alex Fineman