Senior guard Matt Morgan etched his name into Cornell men’s basketball history as two in-state conference rivals put on a back-and-forth thriller on Saturday afternoon.
In its Ivy League opener, Cornell got out to an early 14-0 lead against Columbia. Despite the Lions’ slow start, they were able to climb back into the contest, though the Red hung on for a 60-59 victory to move to 1-0 in league play.
In addition to being an important game for the Ivy League standings, the contest was historic for Morgan, who became Cornell’s all-time career scoring leader during the game when he hit a three-pointer with 14:27 left in the first half.
The Red took a 39-25 advantage into halftime after a strong first half from Morgan, who poured in 19 points in the first 20 minutes.
Cornell continued to build upon its hot start, ballooning its lead all the way up to 18 points with 13 minutes left in the game. But the Lions roared back late in the second half, going on a 13-0 run to take a one-point lead with 2:30 to go in the game. However, sophomore forward Jimmy Boeheim was able to hit a three-pointer with two minutes left to give the Red the lead. A last-second Columbia shot missed, allowing the Red to hang on.
Morgan scored a game-high 21 points, while junior forward Josh Warren was the only other Cornell player in the game in double figures, with 14 points. Warren also collected 10 rebounds, notching the first double-double of his career.
Columbia was led by sophomore guard Gabe Stefanini, who scored 18 points. He was aided by senior guard Quinton Adlesh’s 10 points off the bench.
However, the star of the show was Morgan, who broke Ryan Wittman’s ’10 previous scoring record of 2,028 points. Following the win over Columbia, the senior guard sits at 2,044 career points with 13 games remaining in the regular season.
Additionally, Morgan moves into fourth on the Ivy League career scoring list with his 68th consecutive game in double figures. Also, Morgan accumulated four assists against the Lions, making him one of 15 players in school history with over 250 career assists.
With this victory, Cornell has now won four of its last five games and has amassed a four-game home winning streak.
The Red was able to pick up the crucial conference victory despite the absence of fourth-leading scorer and important role player sophomore Jake Kuhn, who missed the contest due to injury.
The Red will make the return trip to Columbia this Saturday at 7 p.m., where Cornell will look to win its fourth game in a row. Last season, the New York State Ivy League foes split the season series, with the home team winning each contest.