Lack of size doomed Cornell men’s basketball on Sunday in its first loss of the season.
It was a tough day for the Red (2-1) team as it fell to the Colgate, 73-57. After jumping out to a quick 10-3 lead early in the first half, the Red struggled with Raiders’ blend of size, speed and accurate shooting. Colgate took advantage of the Red’s lack of size, relinquishing the lead only once more during the game.
The Raiders methodically and frequently moved the ball to the low post where their big men scored at will. Of Colgate’s total 73 points, 54 came in the paint. By the end of the game, Colgate had outscored the Red by 20 points in the paint.
“We have to learn how to fight a little harder down there,” head coach Brian Earl said. “We did a good job for a good portion of the game and then we let our offensive troubles affect the defense. They’re really well coached and they get the ball in spots where their guys do really good things with it. Down the stretch it sort of fell apart; we weren’t fighting anymore.”
It was an all-around hard night for the Red — especially offensively against Colgate’s occasional 1-3-1 zone defense. Cornell finished the game shooting 39 percent from the field, just 41 percent from the free throw line and an abysmal 14 percent from three-point range. The Raiders shot nearly 10 percent better than the Red from both the charity stripe and from long range.
As per usual, senior guard Matt Morgan led the way for the Red on the offensive end with 12 points and 10 rebounds, although his shooting percentages hovered around the poor marks posted by the rest of the team. The next highest scorer for the Red was junior forward Josh Warren, who scored 10 points. No other Cornell players eclipsed eight points.
“[Their 1-3-1] changes things,” Morgan said. “We’re so used to playing our offense, which is a man offense, and then they went 1-3-1 to switch up the look a little bit. They played good defense. We just have to be able to make a couple more plays and stay poised in those situations.”
The Red’s downfall in this game was eerily reminiscent of tough losses from last year. Early turnovers, missed free throws and a defense which struggled to defend the pick and roll plagued the Red during points last season, and seemed to sneak back in the loss to Colgate.
Although the Red struggled at points, they also competed for large portions of the game with a seasoned and mature Colgate team that was in the top half of the Patriot League last year. In spite of Morgan’s scoring troubles, many players seemed unafraid to take their chances on the offensive end which the Red have struggled with over the past three years.
Coming off its first loss of the season, the Red hosts Delaware at 7 p.m. Thursday.