Where does a team look when it needs a boost? To its leaders. Senior co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes answered the call for the Red this weekend against Army in Rochester, N.Y., leading the men’s basketball team to its first victory of the year.
“Ka’Ron did everything,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “His floor game was almost flawless.”
Barnes, on the floor for 39 of the game’s 40 minutes, scored 24 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. He also tallied three steals and three assists with no turnovers, giving the team just about everything it could ask for.
Cornell (1-2) rallied behind its senior captain, winning the game 79-66.
“It feels good for all the hard work you put in to show up on the scoreboard,” said Donahue.
The Red got out to an early lead in the first, running the score to 32-22 at one point, but the Black Knights (2-2) scrapped back, reducing their deficit to three with a score of 36-33 at the half.
After the break, Cornell never looked back. The team hit the period’s first two baskets to stretch its lead to seven, and Army never got any closer. The Red took final control with a 15-5 run that brought the score to 69-53 with 3:16 left in the game, and put the contest on ice with 10 more points from the foul line.
While the Red offense shot a season-high 52 percent, including 42 percent of its 3-point attempts, Donahue was particularly pleased with the team’s play on the other end of the court.
“I thought we did a terrific job of running team defense,” said the coach.
Cornell held the Knights to 45 percent shooting for the game and came up with 10 steals. In the second half, the Red held Army to just 1-for-11 in 3-point attempts and 10-for-25 overall.
Junior Cody Toppert led the defensive effort with four steals. Freshman Andrew Naeve added two blocks.
To complement its defensive effort, Cornell took care of the ball, giving up a season-low 11 turnovers.
The game also saw several back-ups receive increased playing time. They took advantage of it, to be sure. Naeve contributed his aforementioned blocks in 11 minutes off the bench, and freshman point guard Graham Dow added seven points on 3-for-4 shooting and four assists in 29 minutes.
“I thought he had a great game,” said Donahue about Dow.
The coach noted that as the season goes on and the freshmen gain experience and are more able to contribute, they will likely see more time on the floor.
Among the starters, sophomore Lenny Collins and junior co-captain Eric Taylor both made significant contributions. Taylor snagged a team-high eight rebounds and added 15 points. Collins contributed a season-high 18 points and five rebounds.
Elsewhere in collegiate basketball, the Red’s first opponent, Georgia Tech, took down No. 1 Connecticut, 77-61, and Texas Tech, 85-65, over the weekend to win the Pre-Season NIT. Cornell came within one point with 13:16 left to play against the Yellow Jackets, but eventually fell 90-69.
“It kind of gives us a feeling that we played a really good team,” said Donahue.
But the coach was more focused on the task at hand.
“It’s just the first step,” said the coach about the team’s victory over Army. “We have a big game against Ithaca College and we’ve got to take care of that.”
The Bombers, he noted, will come ready to play and hungry for a win.
The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. in the Newman Arena tomorrow.
Archived article by Matt James