This post has been updated
Lady Luck certainly shined upon Cornell men’s basketball tonight.
Following Friday’s overtime loss in a crucial game to Harvard, the Red (12-15, 6-8 Ivy) headed into its season closer against Dartmouth (7-20, 3-11) without control of its own destiny on the final day of conference play.
Yet, fate smiled upon Cornell as all the chips fell into place — the squad downed Dartmouth in an 86-75 decision, while rivals Princeton and Columbia lost their final matches to Yale and Harvard respectively — to clinch its first-ever Ivy postseason tournament berth.
“We’re obviously excited to get into the tournament, and it was such a strange way to get into the tournament with the help of our friends [Yale and Harvard],” said head coach Brian Earl. “We played well today … and I can’t imagine what the guys are feeling right now.”
With a Harvard win against Columbia earlier in the night, the Red was forced to wait for Yale to squeeze out a 94-90 overtime victory over Princeton following its own game before it could officially punch its ticket to the Ivy postseason.
“We had the game on the TV in overtime … and cheering for a Yale jersey was a surreal moment that I had never imagined,” said senior captain Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof. “It still seems unreal … and I’m just really hoping I’ll still be able to wear my Cornell jersey for the next few weeks.”
— Cornell Big Red (@CornellSports) March 4, 2018
A dominant all-around performance helped the Red pull out the win against a Dartmouth team that refused to go away despite several Cornell runs. Five players scored in double figures as Cornell ran its classic Princeton offense to perfection down the stretch. As a whole, the squad shot an efficient 63 percent from the field and hit nine 3-pointers.
“It was definitely the team effort and huge stops that helped us down the stretch,” said senior captain Kyle Brown. “We’ve also been working on cutting, screening and passing at the right times, and today it all came together at the right times.”
Juniors Matt Morgan and Jack Gordon led the Red each with 16 points apiece. Junior Steven Julian and sophomore Josh Warren each added another 11 points, and junior Stone Gettings rounded out scoring with 10.
The Cornell reserves also played a key role, as the Red had 43 bench points in the high-scoring affair. A final late-game push extended the squad’s lead back to double digits with just over two minutes remaining, and safely secured a victory.
In clinching a postseason berth, the Red secures a date with top-seeded Harvard in the first round of the conference tournament. In its two previous two matchups, Cornell fell to the Crimson by close margins of 76-73 and 98-88.
“We know Harvard’s very good, we’ve already played them tight twice now, so we just have to figure out a couple things to get across the finish line,” Earl said. “We excited that we won and that we’re in, but we’re also very excited to get to work … and get another shot at Harvard.”
The Red faces off against the Crimson at the Palestra in Philadelphia on March 10 at 12:30 p.m.