Boris Tsang / Sun Staff Photographer

Morgan purposefully missed his final free throw to give the Red an extra possession, but the potential game-winner by Julian rimmed in and out.

February 24, 2018

Men’s Basketball Comes Up Short in Final Minutes, Falls to Yale in Crucial Conference Matchup

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As the final two seconds waned, Steve Julian’s three-point attempt to win the game for the Red rimmed out. As a result, Cornell men’s basketball dropped what some would have considered a must-win game 82-80 to Yale. With the loss, the Red moved into a tie with Brown for fifth place in the Ivy League.

“We can’t really take any positive things away from this game,” said head coach Brian Earl.

“A loss is a loss, we probably should have won. It had to be won at home. We had them for most of the game, but it is disconcerting.”

In a back-and-forth game, which saw 20 lead changes and seven ties, a three-pointer by Yale’s Noah Yates with 20 seconds left gave the Bulldogs its final lead of the night.

“We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to make, particularly down the stretch,” Earl said. “We gave up 52 points in the second half, and you just can’t win that way. We gave up crucial possessions on defense where they hit threes, and ultimately, we’re just not there yet.”

On the ensuing possession, a turnover by star junior guard Matt Morgan — his only giveaway of the night — led to a layup by Trey Phills to put the Bulldogs up four.

With three seconds left, Morgan was fouled on a three-point try and made the first two free throws, missing the final attempt on purpose.  The rebound was tipped out of bounds by the Bulldogs, giving the Red the ball back with two seconds left, trailing by two. But ultimately, Julian’s shot was no good.

The Bulldogs were reliant on junior forward Blake Reynolds, who ended the night with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting, despite playing just 24 minutes before fouling out with two minutes left. Additionally, Phills scored 17 points, all of which came in the second half.

The Red had four double digit scorers, headed by Morgan who finished with 23 points. Junior forward Stone Gettings completed another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“I was just trying to take what was given to me,” Gettings said. “ I missed a lot of opportunities tonight, but I was trying my best to do everything I could for the team.”

Also, freshman Terrance McBride extended his consecutive made field goals streak to 12 after hitting all five of his shots for 13 points.

“My teammates have really been instilling confidence in me to shoot the ball more,” McBride said. “It helps get everybody else open and opens the floor for more opportunities. Early in the season, I was passing up open shots.”

The Red will conclude its four-game home stand when it hosts Brown on Saturday.

As the final home game of the season, the matchup will serve as the team’s senior night. The Red will honor seniors Kyle Brown, Wil Bathurst, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof and Pat Smith in their final contest donning the Carnelian and White in front of the fans at Newman Arena.

“I owe all four of our seniors a lot,” Morgan said. “They showed me how to be a student-athlete on this campus. They all helped me in different ways on and off the court, and being able to send them off with a win on senior night would be huge.”

In its first meeting of the season against the Bears, the Red picked up its lone Ivy League road victory of the season. Cornell was able to overcome 26 points from Brown’s Desmond Cambridge in that matchup on on Feb. 9, defeating the Bears 78-60 behind a combined 42 points from Gettings and Morgan.

Opening tip off is 7 p.m. Saturday.