On Friday Feb. 3 and Saturday Feb. 4, Cornell (15-8, 5-5 Ivy) faced Princeton (16-7, 7-3 Ivy) and Penn (14-11, 6-4 Ivy) on the road. Against Princeton, the Red started off strong, going into halftime with a 45-35 lead. Despite extending this lead to 13 in the opening minutes of the second half, the Tigers were able to make an impressive comeback, winning with a final score of 89-82.
The game against the Quakers was a close one all the way through. Cornell trailed 42-40 by the end of the first half. While the Red was able to take a one possession lead two separate times during the second half, it was Penn that walked away from the game with a win with a final score of 92-86.
Going into last Saturday’s game against Brown (13-10, 6-4 Ivy), Cornell had a conference record of 5-4. This put them in a three-way tie for third place with Brown and Penn. With only the top four teams making the conference championship, the Red knew that this would be a crucial game to keep its playoff chances alive.
The team went into the game at full strength with sophomore guard Nazir Williams returning to the lineup after being sidelined the previous three games due to injury. Williams, however, was not in the starting lineup.
In the opening minutes of the game, it was the Bears that came out of the gate hot. Brown’s first four three-point attempts all went in, giving them an early 12-4 lead. The Red responded with a couple of three pointers of its own, with junior forward Sean Hansen and junior guard Chirs Manon each converting from behind the arc.
With the score at 17-13 in the Bears’ favor, Cornell turned the ball over four times over a three minute span, allowing Brown to score 13 unanswered points, extending its lead to 17. The Red never recovered from this deficit, trailing by double digits for the remainder of the contest.
By halftime, Cornell was down 42-24. This was the largest first half deficit the team had faced so far this season. It was also the lowest scoring half of the season for the Red.
In order for Coach Earl’s fast paced play style to work, the team needed to take a lot of three point shots and force the opposing team to turn the ball over; Cornell was not successful in either of these throughout the opening half. While the Red did attempt 15 three-point shots —on par with its season averages— it only converted on three of them. Without the threat of the long ball, the team struggled to find ways to produce points. On the turnover front, the Red gave the ball up three more times than the Bears.
Going into the second half, the Bears continued to look like the better team. After trading buckets in the first few minutes, Cornell was down 49-29 with 16:39 remaining. Over the next two minutes, the Red had no answer for Brown’s offense. The Bear seemed to break Cornell’s full court press with ease and capped off a 10-0 run with an emphatic dunk that sent its fans into a frenzy.
The Red responded to this with a 13-0 run of its own. With 5:56 remaining, Brown’s lead was cut to 14. This proved to be too little too late for the Red, which ended up losing the contest 80-66.
With a conference record of 5-5, Cornell is tied with Dartmouth for fifth place in the Ivy League. While the battle to clinch a berth to Ivy Madness will be difficult, it is still well within reach if the Red can return to its winning ways.
The team will face Dartmouth (9-15, 5-5 Ivy) on Friday and Harvard (12-12, 3-7 Ivy) on Saturday. Both games will be played at Newman Arena at 6 p.m., and will be streamed on ESPN+.