The men’s basketball team didn’t have much time for rest and relaxation over the winter break, as the Red earned a 4-6 record over the last seven weeks, including games against Bucknell, then-No. 10 Washington, and Ivy League foes Penn and Princeton, all on the road.
“I think the schedule, and in particular the road schedule this year, was much more difficult than I anticipated,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “We had some bad efforts, but I didn’t think it had to do with our road preparation. I think we’re going to be a good road team in the league, we’ve done that the last couple of years and I’m pretty confident in our guys.”
While Cornell’s record stands at 6-10 overall and 1-1 in the Ivy League, the Red has posted a 5-1 record on its home court this season. The lone loss came against Quinnipiac on Dec. 2 when the Bobcats held the Red to 29 percent shooting in the second half to take a 55-45 win from the hosts.
The Red bounced back two days later, rallying in the second half to defeat Lehigh, 57-53. Freshman Adam Gore had 13 of his 15 points after the break, while senior Ryan Rourke added all eight of his points in the last 20 minutes. Junior Andrew Naeve also played a key role in the win, adding eight points, a game-high 11 rebounds, and two blocks, as well as sparking a crucial 21-5 run. Kyle Neptune led the Mountain Hawks with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The biggest test of finals week for the Red was a road game against Bucknell on Dec. 17. The Bison dominated, putting the game out of reach early with a 41-7 run in the first half. Twelve Bucknell players found their way into the scoring column, and four reached double digits en route to an 83-39 win. Senior Lenny Collins paced the Red with 12 points.
Cornell rebounded from the loss with a resounding 74-39 win over Army at home on Dec. 20. The Red held the Black Knights to 20 percent shooting for the night and held a 36-23 edge in rebounding. Junior Graham Dow, senior David Lisle, and Naeve each had 10 points in an offensive effort that gave Cornell its largest margin of victory since the 1999-2000 season.
The team then embarked on a West Coast trip, which started on a sour note, as Long Beach State put together a 17-4 run in the final 4:11 of the game to earn a 79-65 victory over the Red on Dec. 30. Collins recorded his best performance of the season with 27 points, but it was not enough to overcome Cornell’s season-high 29 turnovers.
“The Long Beach game we were up most of the game and ran out of gas,” Donahue said. “Each end of the half has been a concern for us this year – we haven’t been able to play our best basketball the last five minutes of each half and I think we’ve talked about it and made that a focal point of what we want to accomplish.