Cornell suffered two of its most lopsided losses of the season this weekend, losing both of its home games to Brown and Yale by an average of 22.5 points. The losses drop Cornell to 7-10 overall and 2-2 in the Ivy League, two games behind the undefeated Brown Bears.
On Friday, Brown pulled away in the second half to win 70-54, denying the Red its first 3-0 start in Ivy League play since the 1981-82 season. Cornell failed to rebound against the Elis on Saturday evening, falling behind early in the first half en route to a 76-47 defeat.
Brown placed five players in double figures on Friday, led by All-Ivy guard Earl Hunt’s 18 points. Fellow guard Jason Forte added 11 points and five rebounds, while forward Patrick Powers added 11 points and four rebounds. Cornell was led by a strong scoring performance from forward Eric Taylor, who finished with 16 points on 6-11 shooting. The sophomore tri-captain added nine rebounds, but was guilty of turning the ball over six times.
Standout freshman Lenny Collins was the only other Red player in double figures. Collins, a four-time Ivy Freshman of the Week, added 12 points and eight rebounds. Overall, the Red shot just 20-58 from the floor, including a dreadful 3-22 performance from behind the arc. Additionally, the Red tallied just eight assists while committing 19 turnovers.
Cornell never led against Brown, quickly falling behind 8-2 just two and a half minutes into the game. Freshman guard Casey Gibbons hit a three-pointer with 9:35 left to cut the deficit to 16-15, but that would be the closest the Red would come all night. After a mini-run by the Bears that extended their lead to 20-15, Cornell would never come within closer than four points the rest of the game. A late three-pointer by Lenny Collins closed the deficit to 31-25 going into the half. The trifecta gave Collins eight points at the half, a team high.
“With Ka’Ron, Cody, and E.T. on the floor, the opposing defenses really key on them and that really gives me some opportunities for good looks at the basket and I’ve just been fortunate to knock them down,” said Collins.
Despite Collins’ solid play, Cornell was fortunate to escape the first half six points behind, having committed 14 turnovers and shooting just 32 percent over the first 20 minutes.
The Red came out aggressive in the second half, cutting Brown’s lead to four on several occasions. However, a 13-2 run by the Bears extended a modest 47-42 lead with 11:13 to play into a comfortable 60-44 advantage with just under six minutes left after Cornell head coach Steve Donahue was charged with a technical. Donahue was contrite after the game when talking about the technical, his first in three seasons at Cornell.
“The technical foul was a personal thing between me and the referee,” Donahue said. “That had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. They kicked out butts.”
Donahue’s emotional outburst was unable to revitalize the tentative Red, as Cornell never cut the lead to less than 14. The Red was disappointed with wasting an opportunity to improve to 3-0, but was even more frustrated with its lackluster effort at home against a quality Brown team.
“I don’t think we’re so much upset that we’re not 3-0, we’re more disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we could tonight. We know we’re a lot better than we showed,” said Collins.
On Saturday, Cornell came out energized and determined to show it was better than the team that struggled against Brown the night before. Cody Toppert opened scoring with a three-pointer, and his transition lay-up off of an outlet pass from Ka’Ron Barnes gave the Red a 16-13 lead midway through the first half. However, Yale responded with a 19-4 knockout punch to finish the half up 32-20.
“I think that we started off okay, going up and down a little bit. Then Yale turned it up a notch and we didn’t answer that intensity. It’s just really a disappointing lack of poise. The little things we have been doing most of the year like executing our sets, getting the ball inside disappeared. There was just a sense of panic early on. When you do that other teams realize that and feed of it,” said a disappointed Donahue.
The Red converted on just 8-25 field goal attempts in the first half, including just two of ten from beyond the arc. Additionally, the Red was outrebounded 21-15 by the Elis and committed nine turnovers going into the break. Barnes led the Red at the half with seven points, but he was just three for nine from the floor. Conversely, Chris Leanza led the Bulldogs with seven as well, but on 3-4 shooting. Junior forward Matt Minoff contributed seven points as well, adding six rebounds by the break.
After struggling against the Red’s zone sets early in the half, Yale began to exploit the Cornell’s defensive vulnerabilities. They finishing the half shooting a respectable 13 for 28 from the floor.
“The zone, in my estimation, is a weak defense