Cornell squared off against Brown in a high-stakes in-conference game on Saturday. Heading into the matchup, the Red had a 4-2 record against Ivy league opponents, good for second in the conference. The Bears were close behind with a record of 3-3. This game had 2,216 fans in attendance, the largest turnout at Newman Arena this season.
At the tipoff, sophomore guard Nazir Williams was not in the starting lineup due to an undisclosed injury. Williams is Cornell’s second leading scorer and ranks ninth in the Ivy League in points per game.
With Williams out, this was junior guard Chris Manon’s first opportunity to be in the starting lineup. The Red wasted no time getting on the board, with Manon hitting two jumpers in the opening minute of the game. This lead did not last long, though. Brown’s ability to drive into the paint and dominate the offensive glass allowed it to go on a 9-0.
With gritty performances on both sides, the rest of the half saw seven lead changes and a tie, with no team leading by more than five points at any point in the first half. Going into halftime, the team trailed the Bears by a score of 35-33. This was the Red’s second lowest first half point total of the season. This low scoring performance was in large part due to Cornell’s inability to connect on its 3-point shots. The team converted on just two of 14 from behind the arc, well below its season average of 37.5 percent.
Senior forward Marcus Filien was the team’s star the opening half, scoring seven points to go along with a rebound, two blocks and a steal.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Cornell strayed from its usual long-ball strategy. Its first four buckets of the second half were scored inside the paint, each by a different player. During this stretch, the Bears hung tough and shot the ball well, stretching its lead to six with 14:44 to play.
After tying the game at 55 apiece with 11:51 remaining, freshman guard Josh Baldwin scored a fast break layup to give the Red a two point lead. The team would not trail for the remainder of the game, winning by a score of 80-73.
Cornell needed a player to step up to win the game, and Manon did just that. Throughout the back half of this game, Manon was by far the best performing player on the court. He finished the game with 23 points, 11 rebounds and one assist.
On the defensive end, Manon had three steals and two blocks. Both blocks came in the final minute of play to put a stop to any potential comeback from the Bears. Manon currently averages 2.2 steals per game, which leads the Ivy League and is 29th in the country.
Cornell is now tied with Princeton for first in the Ivy League. The team will fight for sole possession of the top when it hits the road to face the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m. in New Jersey.