Following its 73-62 upset win over previously unbeaten Princeton last Saturday, Cornell has dropped three Ivy League contests in a row, leaving itself in an unlikely position to finish in the top four teams in the conference — which would mean missing the league tournament.
This past weekend, the Red traveled to Harvard and Dartmouth — and did not put up much of a fight against either of the New England teams. On Friday night, the Crimson defeated the Red 85-63; the next evening, the Green put up a similar display of dominance, beating Cornell by another 22-point margin at 75-53.
“Our guys really need to understand that we cannot have any mental lapses at any point during the game,” said head coach Brian Earl. “I don’t know if there is anything specifically that you can point to with this team, but it just seems like we lose our resilience during portions of the game, which is obviously unacceptable.”
In each game, the Red was unable to shoot the ball efficiently at the start of the contest, while its opponents seemed like they could not miss.
In Cambridge, Cornell went 4-26 from the field and 1-12 from three-point range in the first half, while the home team shot nearly 50 percent from the field in both halves.
Similarly, against Dartmouth, Cornell shot under 35 percent from the field and went just 2-10 from deep in the first 20 minutes of the contest. The Green, on the other hand, made 68 percent of its shots in the first half.
As a result, the halftime scores in each game reflected this discrepancy in performance. Harvard led Cornell 42-15 at the break, while Dartmouth had a 44-25 advantage midway through the matchup.
Despite the large score differentials at each halftime, the Red improved its performance in the second half against both Harvard and Dartmouth. Against the Crimson, Cornell outscored the home team 48-43 in the second half, and at Dartmouth, the Green only had a 31-28 advantage in the final 20 minutes.
However, in both games, the Red had dug themselves into too deep of a hole to climb back in the game.
Star junior forward Jimmy Boeheim led the way for Cornell against Harvard, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds, but his weekend was cut short against Dartmouth, as he only logged six minutes before injuring his ankle. Boeheim’s status is currently questionable.
Due to Boeheim’s injury, junior guards Terrance McBride and Bryan Knapp picked up the slack offensively, leading Cornell with 17 and 10 points, respectively. But their effort was not enough to tilt the scale in Cornell’s favor after Dartmouth’s quick start.
Although neither game was particularly close, one silver lining for Cornell was the emergence of walk-on senior guard Noah Gear. Gear — who just joined the team this season and had played only sparingly throughout the year — got the opportunity to play this weekend, fully taking advantage of his chance to make an impression on the coaching staff.
Gear came off the bench against the Crimson and scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting in just eight minutes played. In Hanover, Gear followed up his strong showing with two points in nine minutes.
Next weekend, the Red will tip off against another pair of Ancient Eight foes.
“We just want to put forward an effort that people can be proud of this weekend against Yale and Brown,” Earl said. “These guys need to step up in different situations and understand that it is 40 minutes from whoever is on the court of no mental lapses and working your hardest.”
Earlier this season, Cornell was swept by the Bulldogs and Bears on the road. Additionally, the Bulldogs have won 14 consecutive games against the Red and seven straight matchups in Ithaca.
Cornell will look to rebound this weekend when it hosts Yale at 7 p.m. on Friday and Brown at 6 p.m. on Saturday.