The old guard of the men’s basketball team was honored before Saturday’s Senior Night game against Brown, but it was a rookie sensation who took center court for the Bears during the contest. Freshman Scott Friske scored 23 points, leading Brown to a 69-64 win over the Red.
The victory gave the Bears (9-16, 5-7 Ivy) a season split against the Red (11-16, 6-6), avenging Brown’s 63-59 loss on Feb. 10 to Cornell, in which the Red limited Friske to just two points.
“[Brown] did a good job. They had a purpose in mind. I thought they really went after the basketball, checked us out, worked harder for loose ones,” said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue. “They deserved to win.”
Senior tri-captains David Lisle, Lenny Collins and Ryan Rourke were honored before tip-off with standing ovations from the fans at Newman Arena. Collins led the Red’s efforts with 18 points and five rebounds, and Rourke added 11 points and five rebounds to the cause. Freshman Adam Gore also netted 14 points and grabbed three steals for Cornell.
Along with Friske, the Bears received double-digit scoring from Keenan Jeppesen, who had 10 points, and Damon Huffman, who scored 14 points – 12 from behind the arc.
Friske opened the scoring with a quick put-back a minute into the game, but Cornell answered two possessions later after Gore converted a steal at midcourt into an easy two points.
Both teams would continue to trade baskets, as the lead changed hands 14 times in the first 20 minutes.
Down by one with a minute left to play in the first stanza, junior Graham Dow fed a cutting Rourke to give Cornell the 35-34 lead. But Brown’s Nathan Eads responded on the next play with a quick two inside to give the Bears a one-point lead heading into the break.
Brown shot a blistering 68.4 percent from the field in the first half, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Coming into the game, the Bears had been averaging only 40.2 percent from the field and an Ivy League-worst 26.8 percent from beyond the arc.
“They really knew what they wanted to do against the zone and we did not play well defensively,” Donahue said.
“Early in the game, we let up too many uncontested jumpers. And including that, they were getting a lot of easy looks down low, scrambling for loose balls,” Collins said.
While Cornell’s zone was effective against Brown in the teams’ first meeting, the Bears’ hot shooting from 3-point range forced Cornell to play more man-to-man defense. This allowed Brown to take advantage of its size inside, scoring 28 points in the paint.
“We always offensively try to get the ball inside. Post play is a big part of our offense, or at least it’s supposed to be,” said Brown head coach Glen Miller. “We were more organized attacking the zone than we have been.”
Brown was able to establish a little breathing room in the second half, after a fast break layup from Jeppesen put the Bears up 50-43 with 15:01 to play.
After a 30-second timeout, Cornell proceeded to cut away at the lead, and a mid-range jumper from junior Andrew Naeve at the 11:42 mark evened the game at 51-all. However, less than two minutes later, Naeve had picked up his third and fourth fouls, forcing Donahue to sit the center.
“Andrew’s one of our better defenders,” Donahue said. “When he’s not on the court for 30 minutes a game it’s tough for us to defend