February 13, 2006

M. Hoops Tops Brown, Falls to Yale on Road

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For three straight weeks, Cornell hit the pressure shots when it needed to late in games, building its season-high winning streak to four after Friday night’s 63-59 victory over Brown. The streaked ended at four, however, as the men’s basketball team came up short against Yale, going scoreless in the final four minutes of a 74-65 loss on Saturday night.

The weekend split leaves the Red (10-12, 5-3 Ivy) tied for third with Yale (13-10, 5-3) in the Ivy League, while Brown sits in sixth place with a record of 7-14, 3-5. With three league losses, Cornell’s hopes of an Ivy title are dimming.

“Obviously our backs are up against the wall, and things need to fall our way,” said junior guard Graham Dow. “[We’re] not worried about how the other teams are doing. Right now we’re just worried about how we play.”

Cornell opened its road trip against a young Brown squad that lacked a single senior in the starting lineup.

Dow led the scoring for the Red with 16 points, adding three rebounds, three assists, and three steals on the night. Senior tri-captain Ryan Rourke dropped in 11 points, while freshman guard Adam Gore added 10 tallies.

Brown’s big men, forward Keenan Jeppesen and center Mark MacDonald led the scoring for the Bears with 21 and 18 points, respectively. Damon Huffman also chipped in 10 points.

Cornell built up a 14-point lead early in the first half, only to see Brown battle back with a 17-2 run, taking the lead with 50 seconds left before the break. Junior Ugo Ihekweazu put the Red back on top with a inside jumper, 32-31, at the half.

Although Brown scored first in the second half to move a point ahead of the Red, Cornell quickly built itself a nine-point lead thanks to back-to-back lay-ups by Dow, and treys from Rourke and Gore. Senior tri-captain Lenny Collins’ only two points of the game at the 8:23 mark gave Cornell an 17-point lead – its biggest of the game.

With the Red leading 59-42 after Collins’ basket, the Bears proceeded to hold Cornell scoreless for most of the remaining eight minutes. Scoring 14 unanswered points, Brown pulled within three with under a minute to play.

With 27 tics left on the scoreboard, Gore converted a fast break into a quick two points to put the Red ahead by five, 61-56. After an Jeppesen 3-pointer cut Cornell’s lead to two, Gore sank a pair of clutch free throws to seal the 63-59 victory.

“Give credit to Brown. They came back into the game,” said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue. “I thought they played hard the whole game. They have good players, and I think we were fortunate to hang on in that one.”

Cornell shot 47.2 percent from the field while holding Brown to 39.3 percent and 5-of-21 from 3-point range. Brown outrebounded Cornell, 40-29, but gave up 17 turnovers to Cornell’s 10.

After a draining contest against Brown, Cornell returned to the court just a day later to do battle against Yale.

Junior forward Jason Hartford had a career-high 21 points and Gore scored all of his 18 points from behind the arc in the Red’s 74-65 loss to the Bulldogs. Collins had 11 points in the affair, while junior Andrew Naeve recorded his third career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

Eric Flato led the Bulldogs with 17 points, including seven points in the last four minutes of the game. Big man Dominick Martin recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 boards. Ross Morin also had 15 points for Yale.

Naeve got the Red on the board with a pair of short jumpers in the opening minutes of the first half, and Hartford scored the first of 21 points with a trey at the 15:18 mark.

Consecutive treys from Gore put Cornell up, 20-14, with eight minutes to play in the first half, but a 15-2 run by Yale put the Bulldogs back ahead, 25-22, two minutes later.

The two squads traded buckets before Hartford closed out the first half with six consecutive points to give Cornell a 36-31 edge at the half.

Hartford scored another quick five out of the break, but Yale kept pace with the Red, taking its first lead, 59-58, of the second half with 7:12 left to play.

With the lead changing hands nearly every other possession, Gore kept Cornell in the match with some clutch 3-point shooting, hitting his sixth trey of the game with 4:21 to play, and giving Cornell its last lead of the game, 65-63.

Yale’s Flato responded on the next play with a 3 of his own from the left corner and went 4-for-4 from the line down the stretch to seal the game for the Bulldogs.

“I just thought they had more left in the tank and were able to execute down the stretch,” Donahue said. “I thought our guys played a very good basketball game.