Another competitive, exciting Ivy League contest has Cornell men’s basketball in second place in the conference heading into Saturday night’s matchup with first-place Yale.
Despite getting out to a slow start, which saw the Red trailing by as much as 13 late in the first half, Cornell climbed back into the game and defeated Ivy League rival Brown, 70-66, in overtime on Friday night.
“I was really proud of how resilient our team was tonight,” said sophomore forward Jimmy Boeheim, whose 21 points led the team. “We got off to a slow start shooting, but we never rolled over and just kept fighting back.”
Back at home after road wins over Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, the victory marks the Red’s third straight league win and continues a trend of close games that come down to the wire: each of Cornell’s seven Ivy contests have been decided by single-digit margins.
Cornell, whose Ivy record improves to 5-2, used a 7-0 run to end the first half to cut the Bears’ halftime lead to four. The teams traded blows throughout the second half, which saw the Red take its first lead of the game with 8:44 remaining.
With two seconds left and the game tied at 60, Brown’s star sophomore guard Desmond Cambridge attempted a midrange jumper for a chance to give the visitors the win. But his try rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.
The Red was able to channel the energy from the raucous home crowd to score the first seven points in the extra session, including a deep 3-pointer by senior guard Matt Morgan.
But Brown didn’t go away quietly. The Bears scored six unanswered points to cut the Cornell advantage to 67-66 with 19 seconds remaining before Cornell broke Brown’s full court press and sophomore Terrance McBride scored an uncontested layup to put the Red up three.
Brown subsequently turned the ball over and was forced to foul Morgan. But the senior guard, usually reliable from the charity stripe, missed both free throws, leaving the door open for the visitors.
However, Brown again mishandled the ball near midcourt, giving possession back to the Red and allowing Cornell to ice the game.
It was somewhat of a tale of two halves for the Red, which struggled mightily in the first 20 minutes.
— Cornell Video (@CornellVideo) February 16, 2019
Boeheim carried the load offensively in the first session, as he led the Red with 13 first half points. Cornell’s all-time leading scorer, Morgan, had a quiet first half, in which he had just three points, all of which came from the charity stripe.
The Red was significantly limited by Brown’s tight defense early on, as the home team shot just 1-for-11 from three-point range and 8-for-24 from the field before halftime.
However, the Red played a strong defensive first half. Cornell caused 12 first half turnovers and the squad drew 13 fouls.
“The most important aspect of the game is being strong defensively,” Morgan said. “Even though my shot wasn’t falling early, I didn’t want it to have a negative impact on my defense. As long as I’m locked in defensively, being the captain of the team, I think that affects how everybody else plays.”
But in the second half and overtime, the Red was able to continue to build on its road sweep of Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend and continue its Ivy League winning ways.
By the end of the night, Cornell was able to have three players finish in double figures. Boeheim led all scorers with 21 points, junior forward Josh Warren had 18 and Morgan chipped in with 15.
Brown had similarly balanced scoring, as four players ended with double figures. Senior guard Obi Okolie led the team with 15 points, while the team’s leading scorer, Cambridge, was limited to just 10.
Cornell will put its three-game Ivy League winning streak on the line on Saturday when it hosts first-place Yale at 7 p.m. The Red has lost its last 11 meetings with the Bulldogs.
“We know that Yale is a really good team,” said head coach Brian Earl. “They have been a really good team for years, but all I want to see from our team is that they fight and let the chips fall the way they may.”