This post has been updated.
Some late-game heroics and a resilient overtime effort gave the Cornell men’s basketball team its largest comeback in over a century, and handed head coach Brian Earl his first win against his alma mater in the 107-101 decision against Princeton on Friday.
Down as many as 22 points on the night, the Red (10-12, 4-5 Ivy) rallied to take the lead during overtime and down Princeton (11-13, 3-6). After a back and forth affair in much of the early portion of the extra time, the Red scored 19 points in the third overtime period to notch the win.
“We knew how much it would mean [to Earl] to beat his alma mater,” said junior guard Matt Morgan. “I think that’s what drove us the last 11 minutes. It gave us that little more motivation to go out there and play that much harder for him.”
Despite the high scoring game, the Red was able to string together crucial defensive stops in the latter portions of the game to secure the win. Thanks to an aggressive full court press, the squad forced 15 turnovers on the game leading to 21 points on the break.
“Our press got a little more aggressive and we were able to [force] turnovers a couple of times,” Morgan said. “We put stops together and once the defense got together, it made everything easier on offense.”
Once again, a major game changer in the matchup came in the form of free throws. However, this time, the narrative was switched up for the home squad — a welcome sight for a team which has faced its share of struggles from the line throughout the season. Cornell drained 29 of its 32 shots from the charity stripe, while Princeton was only able to convert on five of its 11 attempts, including a crucial missed free throw with 0.4 seconds left in regulation.
“We’ve been working on free throws quite a bit and we were just able to lock in [on Friday],” said junior forward Stone Gettings. “It was just one of those nights where you see a few go in and then everyone was making them.”
Cornell’s power duo of Morgan and Gettings once again paved the way for the win. Morgan recorded 31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Gettings registered another 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
However, solid efforts from the rest of squad were what ultimately tipped the scale in the Red’s favor for the six-point win. Junior Steven Julian recorded 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and junior Jack Gordon added 12 points before fouling out. Freshman Terrance McBride recorded an impressive all-around game of nine points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, and freshman Jimmy Boeheim notched a solid eight points and four rebounds.
“It was just a crazy and fun game to be a part of,” Morgan said. “With beating [Coach Earl’s] alma mater and everything, I don’t think I’ll be forgetting that game.”
With the win, Cornell now moves into a fourth place tie with Brown in the league standings. The Red will look to separate itself from the middle of the pack when it plays top-ranked Penn Saturday evening.