Boris Tsang / Staff Photographer

Julian led the Red defensively with another solid statline, but struggles from the free throw line ultimately did the squad in.

February 11, 2018

Despite Strong Defensive Night, Men’s Basketball Unable to Close Out Against Yale

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Following a wire-to-wire victory against Brown, the Cornell men’s basketball team was well within striking distance all game against Yale, but ultimately did not have enough left in the tank to close at the end, falling in a 74-65 decision.

“We were just missing foul shots and … [other] silly mistakes,” said head coach Brian Earl. “We did compete hard [and] everyone was locked in on defense [but] we just weren’t able to get across the finish line.”

While Yale (11-13, 4-4 Ivy) built an early lead, the Red (9-12, 3-5) was able to claw back from several double digit leads to keep it close throughout the game. The improving defense of the team played a large role, as the squad was able to hold some key Bulldogs to single figures, including Alex Copeland and Noah Yates.

“Our defense forced [Yale] into tougher shots,” Earl said. “We keyed in on a couple of their scorers and made things hard for them. They just made a couple of threes down the stretch … which is really all it takes in this league when you’re on an away court.”

Junior forward Steven Julian anchored the Cornell defense for a second consecutive night, posting 10 points, three rebounds, and three steals. Junior guard Joel Davis also posted a solid all-around effort with eight points, seven rebounds, two blocks, and a steal.

“[Julian] is getting more and more comfortable with his role,” Earl said. “He’s been a big part of our defense, especially in the last couple of games. We’ve been asking him to do a lot that he hasn’t done before in his basketball career and he’s accepted that.”

Despite a strong defensive effort, the Red ultimately did themselves in with another poor night from the line. Cornell converted on just 55 percent of its free throws, and also struggled from long range, hitting just 25 percent of its tries from three-point land.

On the offensive end, the typical trailblazers performed once again for Cornell. Junior forward Stone Gettings led the team with 20 points and eight rebounds, and junior guard Matt Morgan added 13 points and seven boards. Freshman guard Terrence McBride also added 10 points and three steals to be the Red’s fourth double digit scorer on the night.

The Red finishes its weekend road trip with a split and now heads back home in a tie for fifth place in the Ivy standings. The squad also lies just one game behind third place Brown and Yale, and enters a critical final stretch of games which will determine the postseason conference tournament seedings.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. Defensively, we have to continue to be locked in [and] offensively we have to make sure that even when the other teams are locking down Matt and Stone, the rest of our guys are able to be confident and find their shots.”

The Red will tip off at home next Friday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. against Princeton and Saturday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. against Penn.