Any indication that this weekend’s matchup between the Cornell men’s basketball team and UMass Lowell would be a continuation of last year’s 98-96 overtime thriller between the two teams quickly dissipated within the first few minutes.
The Red (1-3) were only able to hold on for the opening 10 minutes, in which there were nine lead changes, before the River Hawks pulled away for good. From then on, it was all UMass Lowell, which proceeded to build up a 20-point lead and never allowed the Red to come within single digits before a resounding 98-78 victory by the final buzzer.
While the final box score showed a blowout loss, much of the blame for the loss can be attributed to the Red’s own sloppy play in moving the ball. The team recorded an abysmal 22 turnovers as it ran standard cuts and plays, which led to 30 fast break points for the River Hawks.
“I don’t think it was any sort of pressure that led to turnovers,” said head coach Brian Earl. “We weren’t getting stripped while dribbling, but were careless with a lot of our other actions. A lot of turnovers came from our bigs … who weren’t able to see the weak-side defense and … [threw the ball] to cutters who weren’t open.”
The other major area of concern came on the offensive glass, where the Red was simply unable to box out its opponents. The team gave up 52 points in the paint and 25 second-chance points — most of which resulted from missed rebounds leading to easy layups for the River Hawks.
“We didn’t limit them to one shot and lost on the offensive glass,” Earl said. “A good percentage of [points given up in the paint] was just a good defensive possession, but being unable to finish that off by grabbing the rebound.”
Junior guard Matt Morgan was once again the sole source of consistent offense, ending the game with 25 points on 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the 3-point arc. His efforts against UMass Lowell, paired up with the Binghamton win and Colgate loss, earned him Ivy League Player of the Week honors. Sophomore Wil Bathurst posted eight points, six assists and five rebounds, while junior forward Stone Gettings chipped in 13 points in just 14 minutes of action.
Against the River Hawks, the Red shot surprisingly well as a team, ending the game 56 percent from the field and 47 percent from three. However, the team attempted 20 less shots than its opponents and was only able to convert for eight points on its opponent’s 11 turnovers.
“We’re concerned [with the offense], definitely, but we also know this isn’t the finished product,” Earl reaffirmed. “We’re still trying to give guys meaningful minutes who haven’t played together … and we haven’t learned how to deal with teams trying to stop our cutting.”
After a short Thanksgiving hiatus, the Red will have a chance to regroup at home against Toledo on Friday, Nov. 24. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.