March 1, 2004

M. Cagers Drop Pair to Ivy Rivals

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The men’s basketball team hot hit with a pair of disappointing losses last weekend, falling to Penn 84-69 on Friday in Philadelphia, and dropping its contest against Princeton 59-46 on Saturday.

“I thought we went down there and played with great effort, but obviously not enough to win the basketball games,” said head coach Steve Donahue about the weekend.

Things started out promisingly for the Red, as the team ran its way out to a 25-16 lead against the Quakers in the beginning of the first half.

But the Cornell squad couldn’t keep Penn all the way out of the game. With 4:42 remaining in the half, Penn launched a 15-1 run on the back of Quaker guard Jeff Schiffner, who scored the first six points to even the game. His team helped him finish off the half and put the Cornell at a 26-34 disadvantage.

In the second half, the Red fought back, with sharp-shooter Cody Toppert and big-man Eric Taylor keying a charge to a 37-36 advantage.

However, it wasn’t to be. Penn answered with a 20-3 run and closed the door on Cornell’s chances for the rest of the way, as the Red could get no closer than six. The Quakers earned big points on transition three pointers, and hit several big tres deep in the shot clock. Overall, the team nailed 14 threes, with half of its field goals coming from the long-balls.

Donahue pointed to the Quaker’s run at the end of the first half as a turning point.

“That one stretch at the end of the first half really killed us because we played a great first half and we should have gone into the locker room up, and we didn’t. And you give Penn credit; that’s why they’re a good team. They really get on their runs quickly, and we didn’t.”

Individually, all five of Cornell’s starters scored in double figures, Taylor leading the way with 17. Sophomore swing-man Lenny Collins earned his first career double-double with a career-high 12 boards and 13 points, along with a team-high three steals.

“I think we did some good things, we just didn’t do enough as a team to win the game,” concluded Donahue.

Saturday at Princeton, the Red faced a major slow-down. The Tigers’ defense thoroughly grounded Cornell, holding the Red to 25% shooting in the first and 32% overall in the game.

In contrast to Friday, Cornell started out behind and stayed there. The Tigers stopped the team’s first seven shots to gain the lead and never looked back. Through the half, Toppert, Taylor and Collins were all scoreless, and back-up forward Stevan Marcetic was the Red’s leading scorer with five points. Those numbers did not bode well for the team.

“We started out early by not making shots and it just got into our heads a little bit because we had open looks and we didn’t make them and then Princeton continued to play good defense, as did we,” said Donahue

The Red limited Princeton to 38% shooting, effectively shutting down the Tigers three-point game. But Cornell couldn’t quite beat them at their own game.

“I look at our inability really to get into a good rhythm on the offensive end is really what hurt us in that game,” noted Donahue.

On the night Ka’Ron Barnes led the team with 14 points. Eric Taylor was next with six; he also contributed a team-leading seven boards.

The weekend’s losses drop Cornell to 11-14 on the season and 6-6 in Ivy play.

“I thought we played hard, and I thought there was a great effort in both games. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win the basketball games,” said Donahue.

The team finishes off the season at home this weekend against Yale and Brown this weekend at Newman Arena.

Archived article by Matt James