Men’s basketball began its season on Monday, Nov. 6, when the team squared off against Lehigh. The Red’s starting lineup featured senior forward Sean Hansen, sophomore forward DJ Nix, senior guard Chris Manon, senior guard Isaiah Gray and sophomore guard Cooper Noard.
It was Hansen who got Cornell (2-0, 0-0 Ivy) on the board, working his way into the paint and hitting his signature hook shot. On the Red’s next possession, Noard knocked down a three-point shot.
After Cornell’s first round of substitutions, junior guard Nazir Williams and junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. immediately made an impact, forcing a 10-second violation on the Mountain Hawks (0-1, 0-0 Patriot League). The Red’s play style hinges on quick offensive possessions and full court press on defense, so forcing these types of turnovers is key for the team’s success.
The Red was a little sloppy on offense in the opening half, turning the ball over eight times compared to nine assists. These turnovers proved to be costly, as the Mountain Hawks converted them into 16 points.
Noard kept the team in the game with an impressive shooting performance. He finished the half with 15 points, knocking down five three-point shots out of seven attempts. Last season, Noard averaged just 1.9 points per game.
The first half had seven lead changes and six ties, with neither team leading by more than seven points. Going into halftime, the Red trailed the Mountain Hawks, 44-39.
Lehigh extended its lead to seven to start the half, but a layup by Gray and a three-pointer by Hansen quickly cut this lead to two. The Mountain Hawks did not relinquish its lead without a fight, scoring 10 points inside the paint during the opening seven minutes of the half.
Down 58-54, Hansen delivered for the Red. After hitting a three-point shot to pull the team within one, he gave the Red a one-point lead on the team’s next possession. This was Cornell’s first lead since it led, 20-19. After Lehigh tied the score at 59, Hansen knocked down his fourth three-pointer of the game.
Hansen finished the game with 25 points, four rebounds and two assists. His 25 points were just one shy of his career-high. It was Cornell’s gameplan to have Hansen be a more aggressive shooter this season, and it paid off.
“[Hansen] will do whatever’s necessary,” said head coach Brian Earl. “[Against Lehigh] he had the opportunity to take the ball one-on-one and made a lot of right decisions. He’s very unselfish.”
While the Red’s free throw shooting was not fantastic — the team hit 67.7 percent of its shots at the charity stripe — Cornell was able to knock down most of its free throws down the stretch to seal its victory. The Red beat Lehigh, 84-78. Despite the win, Coach Earl acknowledges that improvements still need to be made on the defensive end.
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Cornell faced SUNY Morrisville (0-1, 0-0 NAC). The Red held the lead the entire game. The team won the game with a final score of 107-85. Freshman guard Josh Beccles led the scoring for Cornell with 15 points.
“[Beccles] is fast and dynamic… he looked good today and he’ll have to put it together day after day in practice and in the games he gets in,” Earl said.
Cornell will continue its season on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m., when it faces Fordham in Rose Hill Gymnasium in New York City. This game can be watched live on ESPN+.