March 6, 2011

Gatlin Shines in Senior Night Victory Over Yale

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The men’s basketball team ended its season with a decisive win over Yale, 68-55, at Newman Arena on senior night. The Red’s three seniors — Adam Wire, Mark Coury and Aaron Osgood — were honored in a pregame ceremony, with Wire and Coury starting and Osgood making a brief appearance in the final minute despite battling injuries. Cornell (10-18, 6-8 Ivy League) finished a season that got off to a rocky start with a three-game winning streak that included victories over Penn, Brown and Yale.

“We have come a long way,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “The main improvement was we gained experience. You have to have those game situations in order to learn and we learned from those losses; we were able to improve shooting and play a lot better down the stretch.”

In Saturday’s game against Yale, junior Andrew Ferry led the Red in scoring with 15 points, while junior Chris Wroblewski and senior Anthony Gatlin scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Yale had swept Dartmouth and Harvard at home preceding the game against Cornell, while the Red entered the contest after earning two impressive wins against Penn and Brown.

The last time Cornell played Yale, the Red lost in a heartbreaker in the final two minutes, 71-70, after losing its 10-point lead late in the game.

There was no such second-half slump in this game; the Red scored 38 points in the second session, which resulted in a 13-point Cornell lead with 17:30 remaining. Yale cut down the lead down to five points with eight minutes left, but unlike the last game was unable to close the gap.

The Red held the Bulldogs to 35-percent shooting from the floor and 13 percent from 3-point land, compared to Cornell’s 46.4-percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent from downtown. Additionally, Yale only converted 55 percent of its free throw opportunities (11-of-20) compared to Cornell’s pristine 7-of-7. Cornell’s bench outscored Yale’s, 42-8. Despite 18 points from 6-10, 240-pound center Greg Mangano — the Ivy League’s scoring leader with an average of 16.3 points per game — Cornell controlled the game from the beginning until the end, making all four free throws and a layup in the game’s last two minutes.

Although the two games this season against Yale had different outcomes, the game plan was ultimately the same. According to Ferry, the team focused on limiting Mangano by having players nearby to assist with defending, which forced Mangano to take tougher shots.

“It was a lot of the same things. We really wanted to speed them up, especially focusing on helping [defend] Mangano … He’s a real good player,” Ferry said. “The main difference was simply how we finished the game. We kind of gave up in the last minutes of the last game and [Saturday] we were able to stand firm and close the game out.”

The win was bittersweet as it signified the end of an era in Cornell basketball, with the graduation of the last members of Cornell’s three-time Ivy League championship team.

“It’s going to be a tough loss. They have a lot of energy, a lot of leadership and a lot of production. They are great guys, great friends, great teammates. We are losing some friends its tough, but we wish them well and know they will be successful in whatever they do,” Ferry said.

Despite the loss of Coury, Osgood and Wire, Courtney is optimistic that the team will take the momentum it gained in the latter half of this season and get off to a better start next year.

“Our goal for next season is to win more games and for everybody to become better players individually and collectively; better defensively, better offensively,” Courtney said. “We have a lot more returns next year. Last year since five [seniors] left we didn’t have a lot of experience, but now we have returning players with a lot more experience.”

Original Author: Nicole Wagner