Aaron Snyder/Sun Sports Editor

Junior guard Isaiah Gray shoots in men's basketball's 114-57 win over Suny-Delhi at Newman Arena on Nov. 11, 2022.

November 15, 2022

Cornell Falls Just Short in Basketball Season Opener, Bounces Back to Win Next Two

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On Monday, Nov. 7, men’s basketball kicked off its season against Boston College.

For the season opener, Cornell’s starters were sophomore Nazir Williams, senior Greg Dolan, junior Isaiah Gray, junior Keller Boothby and junior Sean Hansen. It was the first start for Williams, Gray and Hansen. 

The Red (2-1) did not get off to a good start against the Eagles. After the first five minutes of play, Cornell found itself down 10-2; the team did not make a field goal until sophomore Guy Ragland Jr. finished a layup with 14:38 remaining in the first half. A minute later, the Red faced its biggest deficit of the game, trailing Boston College, 16-4. 

Later in the first half, the Red held the Eagles scoreless for almost four minutes, cutting BC’s lead to just one. During this stretch, Hansen and Williams hit back-to-back three point shots, with Ragland Jr. adding a layup. This run set the tone for the rest of the game, with neither team leading by more than eight points afterwards.

The Red held the lead for a good portion of the second half. With under three minutes to go, the Eagles took a 73-71 lead. Cornell hung tough, with junior Max Watson — making his debut for the Red — hitting a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game at 77 apiece with 0:29 remaining. BC ran the clock down and made a last second layup to win the game 79-77.

Despite the tough loss, Williams and Dolan both had a productive day on the court. Williams scored 17 to go along with a rebound, a steal and a pair of assists. Dolan scored 13, with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Three days later, Cornell faced off against SUNY Delhi, a Division III school. The Red dominated the contest from start to finish. Within the first eight minutes of the game, the team forced two 10-second violations. Sophomore Chirs Manon led the scoring for the Red with 17 points.

By the end of the second half, Cornell subbed out all its starters and gave everyone on the roster a chance to play. At one point, it sent out a lineup featuring all freshmen. The Red won handily, 114-57.

This past Monday, the Red squared off against St. Francis University. The team did not waste any time getting its offense rolling. 

The Red started off the game with a 9-0 run. Gray led the charge, scoring seven of those points. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Gray scored 11 points, with the rest of the team combining for 12 points — this put Cornell at a quick 23-9 advantage. The run consisted of just five 3-point attempts. This goes against the Red’s normal style of play, as it had averaged 41 3-point attempts in the previous two games.

St. Francis did not let this lead last long. In the back end of the first half, a combination of Cornell turnovers and timely 3-point field goals by the Red Flash, had the Red trailing 40-39 at the end of the half.

Gray and Hansen led the offense in the first half, scoring 13 and 14 points, respectively.

Boothby made a layup in the first possession of the second half, helping the Red quickly regain the lead. In the following few minutes, the lead went back and fourth between the Red and St. Francis. With 16:19 remaining, Watson scored a basket, giving Cornell a lead it would not give up for the remainder of the game.

With Gray and Hansen leading the way in the first half, it was Dolan who led the charge in the second half, with 12 points. He showcased his ability to move without the ball, converting on several back door cuts and transition layups. Dolan has also been lethal from behind the arc, hitting 9 of 12 of his 3-point shots to start the season.

While the Red had several chances to put this game away throughout the second half, poor free throw shooting kept St. Francis in the game. While Cornell had no problem getting to the line, it only converted 13 of 23 free throw attempts.

The Red also committed 19 personal fouls. Williams fouled out of the game with 8:14 left on the clock, playing just 12 minutes. After two strong performances to start the season, Cornell will need Williams to limit these fouls going forward.

With just over a minute remaining, Cornell was leading 76-69. St. Francis kept battling, however, and cut the lead to just two points with eight seconds remaining. Despite this last second push by the Red Flash, Cornell came out with a victory, winning 80-77.

In addition to Gray and Dolan, Hansen was also a big factor in the Red’s victory. Hansen finished the game with 26 points, the most in his collegiate career. He shot a perfect 8 of 8 from the field and went 8-10 from the line. On the defensive end, Hansen had three steals and a block.

Cornell continues its season at Newman Arena, facing Ithaca College on Friday, Nov. 18.