In a complete turn from the previous day’s heartbreaker against Yale, the Cornell men’s basketball team had a perfect late-game execution to secure a crucial 73-68 Saturday night win over Brown.
The Red (11-14, 5-7 Ivy) gained control of the lead midway through the second half and fought off several runs by Brown (11-14, 4-8) to hold onto the win. Free throws proved critical once again, as Cornell was able to sink clutch free throws in crunch time while the Bears struggled to convert from the line.
“Down the stretch, we managed to stand our ground much better than against Yale,” said head coach Brian Earl. “We were also able to pack it in against the team and didn’t turn the ball over as many times down the stretch.”
Cornell’s win came in unexpected fashion as several players on both ends of the court found themselves in foul trouble early on. Junior forward Stone Gettings, as well as Brown’s star guards Desmond Cambridge and Zach Hunsaker all saw their ways to the bench midway through the first half. With a lack of offense on both sides of the floor, the match quickly turned into a gritty defensive showcase.
“One of the keys going into this game after Yale [was defense],” said junior guard Matt Morgan. “Even with both me and Stone on the bench I think … the focus on defense was amazing.”
Running a full court press on nearly every inbounds play, the Red was certainly rewarded for its defensive pressure on the statbooks. The squad held Brown to 34 percent shooting from the field, and just 20 percent from downtown. Junior forward Steven Julian had another solid all-around game to lead the Red’s defensive effort, finishing the night with eight points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals
“We always know we have to focus on defense, [especially] when we know we can score on any team,” Julian said. “Tonight, it was all about getting stops.”
On the offensive end, Morgan once again led the Red with 17 points and eight rebounds. Gettings put in solid work in the second half to finish with 12 points and freshman Terrence McBride was the third double digit scorer for Cornell with 10.
“We’re turning a corner where all the guys are producing, not just Matt and Stone,” Earl said. “Tonight [the team] did everything offensively and defensively as well.”
Following Columbia’s conference loss against Yale, Cornell is now tied with the Lions for fourth place in the Ivy standings. The Red will look for a sweep next weekend on the road against Harvard and Dartmouth as each game becomes a must-win for Ivy tournament qualification.
“Being on the other side of things, I’m starting to realize how important this tournament is,” Earl said, referring to his former tenure at Princeton. “It keeps guys motivated … and all we can do right now is practice and play hard.”
Cornell tips off on the road against Harvard next Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. and against Dartmouth on Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m.