March 10, 2003

M. Hoops Falls to Tigers, Quakers

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The men’s basketball season ended this weekend with two losses on the road for the Red. On Friday night, Cornell (9-18, 4- 10 Ivy) dropped a game to Princeton (15-10, 9-3 Ivy), 71-61, and on Saturday night at the Palestra, it lost to Penn (21-5, 13-0 Ivy), 69-52. The win allowed Penn to clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“I thought we came out and played hard in both games,” said sophomore tri-captain Eric Taylor. “We definitely ran the offense smarter Friday night, but Saturday night, defensively Penn was able to take us out of what we wanted to do.”

He later added, “Definitely in both games we came out and played really hard, but we didn’t get the results that we wanted. But I think that we definitely sent the message that next year we are going to be one of the top teams and in the years to come.”

The two games were characterized by strong rebounding and poor shooting. On Friday night, the Red outrebounded the Tigers, 28-19, but shot only 40 percent from the floor. On Saturday night, Cornell outrebounded the Quakers, 40-33, but again shot only 33 percent from the floor.

Princeton continued its dominance of the Red in Jadwin Gymnasium, defeating Cornell for the 18th straight time at home. Leading the way was sophomore Judson Wallace, who had 23 points while grabbing five rebounds and recording three blocks. Senior Ray Robbins had 21 points, going 8-for-10 from the field.

Cornell was down by as much as 15 points with 5:40 remaining and cut the lead down to six with under a minute to play, but could not pull out the win.

Taylor led the Red with 17 points and nine rebounds Friday night. Junior tri-captain Ka’Ron Barnes finished with 14. Freshmen David Lisle and Lenny Collins both netted 10. Collins also grabbed seven boards.

On Saturday night, Cornell was unable to play spoiler to Penn’s perfect league season on its Senior Night. The win not only secured the team the Ivy League title, but also a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Quakers finish off its regular season schedule this week when it plays Princeton on the road.

“They’re a very talented team,” said senior tri-captain Jacques Vigneault. “They are physically impressive, and just by the way they play, they are obviously well coached. They play well as a team and are very talented, so they deserve to win the Ivy League championship.”

The first match-up between these two teams was one of the best games Cornell played all year, but Saturday’s game was dominated by the home team.

Barnes led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. Prior to that performance, Barnes’ best effort was seven boards. Sophomore Gabe Stephenson had six points, and sophomore Cody Toppert and Collins each had five.

Leading the way for Penn was senior Ugonna Onyekwe, sophomore Tim Begley, and senior Andrew Toole, who each had 13 points in the win.

The weekend marked the end of the collegiate careers of Vigneault and Brandon Barton. Both saw time in the game, with Vigneualt hitting one of his signature 3-pointers and Barton grabbing a rebound.

“It was mixed emotions,” said Vigneualt of his last collegiate game. “Walking off the court for the last time was kind of sad, but I’m very excited about the road ahead.”

“Jacques has been a guy that we have all looked to,” said Taylor of his fellow captain. “When he got an opportunity, he hit some big shots. He is one of the best shooters I have ever seen. I think I speak for the whole team when I say, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Of Barton, Taylor said, “Brandon came in this year, and it was a lot of fun playing with him. He added a lot to our team. He really helped us out this year, and we thank him for that.”

The team finished with nine wins, almost double of last year’s five and had four league wins; double of last year’s two.

Archived article by Kristen Haunss