March 15, 2010

The March to Madness

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@ Alabama –– Nov. 14, 2009

The Red opens its season by defeating Alabama on the road, 71-67, for its first win over an SEC team in 37 years. Senior forward Ryan Wittman drops a game-leading 23 points, which, looking back, could be considered an early preview of what was to come from the senior forward in 2009-10.

vs. Seton Hall –– Nov. 20, 2009

@ Syracuse –– Nov. 24, 2009

Cornell travels up I-81 to take on previously-No. 1 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. After having the Orange on the ropes last season, the Red forces an unsettling feeling of déjà vu upon the home team –– trailing by only five at halftime. However, Syracuse pulls away in the second frame, and although Wittman’s third 3-pointer of the night gives him 282 for his career –– passing Princeton’s Brian Earl for the most in Ivy League history –– Cornell cannot engineer a comeback, falling to the Orange by a score of 88-73. Seton Hall and Syracuse would represent the Red’s only back-to-back losses of the 2009-10 campaign.

@ Bucknell –– Dec. 2, 2009

Cornell breaks 100 points for the only time this season in a classic nail-biter, surviving a late rally by the Bison that sends the game into overtime. Senior center/tri-captain Jeff Foote has a monster game –– scoring 28 points and grabbing 18 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

vs. Davidson –– Dec. 20, 2009

Participating in its first-ever Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival Tournament, the Red ensures that the experience will be one to remember. With .7 seconds left in regulation and Cornell down by two, senior guard Louis Dale sneaks into the lane for layup to send the game into overtime. The drama doesn’t end there, as Wittman –– making his first appearance at The Garden –– drains a 35-foot buzzer-beating 3-pointer to secure the Red a berth in the championship game against St. John’s. Later that night, the shot is featured on SportsCenter’s “Plays of the Week” at No. 3.

vs. St. John’s –– Dec. 21, 2009

@ Kansas –– Jan. 6, 2010

The Red visits one of the most revered venues in college basketball –– Allen Fieldhouse –– and sends shockwaves through the sports world when it leads then-undefeated No. 1 Kansas, 41-38, at the half –– the only team to do so all season. With less than a minute to play in regulation, Cornell finds itself up, 64-63, as ESPN and its affiliated networks cut to live footage of the game. However, some clutch free-throw shooting by Sherron Collins down the stretch extends the nation’s longest home winning streak to 51. In the immediate aftermath of the contest, “Cornell basketball” becomes a trending topic on Twitter and is the second most-searched phrase on Google. However, it is Kansas head coach Bill Self who pays the team the ultimate compliment, calling Cornell “the best team we’ve played all season,” in a post-game press conference.

vs. Harvard –– Jan. 30, 2010

Cornell hosts Jeremy Lin and the Harvard Crimson at Newman Arena for what –– at the time –– was easily the most hyped-up game of the Ivy schedule. An eight-point favorite, the Red blows out the visitors by 36 (86-50) to hand Harvard its worst loss of the season while forcing eight turnovers by Lin. In doing so, Cornell sends a message to the pundits who maintained that Harvard represented the most legitimate threat to the Red’s bid for a three-peat.

Feb. 2, 2010

Fresh off its thrashing of Harvard, the Red earns its first national ranking in 59 years –– appearing in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll at No. 25. Cornell would climb as high as No. 22 the following Monday.

@ Penn –– Feb. 12, 2010

In a shocking turn of events, the 3-15 Quakers –– who infamously started their season 0-10 –– upset No. 22 Cornell at the Palestra. Led by Jack Eggleston and Zack Rosen (a First-team All-Ivy unanimous selection), Penn shoots 16.2 percentage points above its season average –– including 11-of-21 from beyond the arc –– to hand the Red its only league loss of 2009-10.

@ Princeton –– Feb. 13, 2010

Facing a must-win game against then undefeated-Princeton, Cornell rebounds from its devastating loss to Penn and grinds out an uncomfortable, 48-45, victory over the Tigers despite another lackluster performance from beyond the arc. Wittman hits several clutch free throws down the stretch, and Princeton guard Douglas Davis heaves up a 3 at the buzzer that doesn’t go, as the Red holds on to regain sole possession of first place in the Ivy League.

@ Harvard –– Feb. 19, 2010

In front of 14 NBA scouts and the likes of Andy Katz, Peter King and Jeff Goodman, the Red puts on a show for the sold-out Harvard crowd –– though admittedly not one the Crimson fans had in mind. Following a weekend where the 3-pointer was noticeably absent, Cornell drills 12 treys on the night to establish a new single-season record at 245. Wittman and Dale combine for 47 of the Red’s 79 points, and Goodman tweets afterwards, “I have seen nearly every Top 25 team this season –– and Cornell was up there as the most entertaining and fun to watch of all of them.”

vs. Penn –– Feb. 27, 2010

The Red has its revenge, trouncing the Quakers, 68-48, to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title on Senior Night. The team honors its eight seniors –– one of the largest classes in Division 1 –– in an emotional pregame ceremony; Donahue has since said of the seniors: “I don’t think they realize how much they’ve accomplished. I’m going to try for the rest of my coaching career to get a group like this, and I may never get there. I’m pretty sure I won’t.”

@ Brown –– March 5, 2010

Led by Jaques’ 20 points, Cornell downs Brown, 95-76, to clinch its third straight Ivy League title outright. The Red drains 20-of-30 from beyond the arc, matching the conference record for most 3-pointers in game set by Princeton in 2002 against Ursinus.

March 10, 2010

As expected for a team that has just clinched an NCAA tournament berth for the third consecutive year, Cornell players clean up the league’s end-of-season awards. Wittman is named Ivy League Player of the Year, and Foote is named Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in a row. Dale, meanwhile, receives a First-team All-Ivy selection for the third consecutive season –– only the 25th player in Ancient Eight history to do so. Wroblewski also nabs an honorable mention.

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown