March 7, 2005

M. Hoops Splits

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Although Penn has already clinched the Ivy League title and an NCAA tournament bid, the Red men’s basketball team can find solace in the fact that it, at worst, will finish in a second-place tie after a weekend split with Yale and Brown.

The team ends its season with a 13-14 overall record, including an 8-6 mark against Ivy opponents, and will await the outcome of Yale’s game against Brown tomorrow night to see if it will have to share second place in the league.

“Coming in second against everyone’s predictions is really satisfying,” said junior Lenny Collins.

Friday night at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater, the Bulldogs (11-15, 7-6 Ivy) had four players in double figures en route to a 79-63 win. The Red fell behind early in the contest, as it shot just 38 percent in the first half, and found itself down by 15 at the break.

“[Poor shooting] happens sometimes,” Collins said. “And Yale is a tough place to play. Their fans are usually pretty loud and it’s a hostile environment.”

Cornell picked up its game in the second half, connecting on 4-of-8 3-pointers, but Yale’s effort on the boards was too much for the Red to overcome. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Red 42-29, including a game-high 12 rebounds from center Dominick Martin. Martin also notched 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Joining Martin in double figures were guard Edwin Draughan (14 points), forward Sam Kaplan (16 points), and Casey Hughes, who came off the bench and scored 11 points in 21 minutes. The Red was led in scoring by Collins and senior Eric Taylor, who tallied 10 and 14 points, respectively. Collins also led the team with seven rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals. Taylor was the lone starter to shoot over 50 percent in the game, going 5-for-6, with three rebounds and a steal.

Junior Ryan Rourke and freshman Jason Canady both scored eight points, but shot a combined 7-for-25 from the field, while senior Cody Toppert hit just 1-of-5 from downtown, tallying three points and four rebounds.

The next night at Brown’s Pizzitola Center, the Red shot 52 percent from the field and 9-of-15 from 3-point range to take down the Bears (11-16, 4-9), 77-61.

The game was tight throughout the first half, but Cornell burst out of the gates after halftime, outscoring Brown 49-30 in the final 20 minutes of the game. Guard Jason Forte tallied 20 points off the bench — the only player in double figures for Brown — in just 22 minutes. Guard Damon Huffman and James Daniels each added nine points, while Forte and forward Luke Ruscoe led the Bears with five rebounds apiece.

Pacing the Red was Collins, who had a game-high 25 points, on 9-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. But it was Taylor who stole the show, as he scored 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting — including the 1,000th of his career — and pulled down 11 rebounds for his 10th career double-double.

Toppert also scored in double figures, with 12 points, while Canady notched nine. The game was the last for both Taylor and Toppert, who leave Cornell in second place after the 2004-05 campaign after going just 5-22 overall and 2-12 against the rest of the Ivy League in their freshman year.

“[Taylor and Toppert] have been extremely important to bringing Cornell basketball to where it is now,” Collins said.

Next season, the Red will return three starters and nine lettermen, including sophomores Graham Dow and Andrew Naeve, who will be the likely successors to Toppert and Taylor. The addition of Dow, who missed the last five games due to injury, to the starting lineup will allow Canady to move to the off-guard spot. Despite the injury, Dow paced the Red with 36 steals and was second on the squad with 52 assists, while Naeve notched a team-high 28 blocks.

“We’re excited about next year because we’re not filling positions with question marks,” Collins said.

Archived article by hris Mascaro
Sun Sports Editor