Aaron Snyder/Sun File Photo

Junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. finished with his first double-double of the season in the Red's win over Utah Valley.

November 28, 2023

Men’s Basketball Tops Cal State Fullerton and Utah Valley, Wins Bay Bracket of Jacksonville Classic

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Men’s basketball (5-1, 0-0 Ivy) played its first game of the Jacksonville Classic on Sunday, Nov. 19. Along with the Red, this in-season tournament featured George Mason, Charlotte, South Dakota State, University of Central Florida, Southern Mississippi, Utah Valley and Cal State Fullerton.

Placed in the Bay region of the tournament, the Red was matched up against the Titans (2-4, 0-0 Big West) in its semifinal game. Coming off a loss to George Mason in its previous game, Cornell was looking to get back in the win column.

In the opening eight minutes of the game, the Red and the Titans were evenly matched, with neither team leading by more than two points during this stretch. Sophomore guard Cooper Noard did not wait long to break the stalemate, knocking down two three-point shots as part of a 9-0 Cornell run.

Noard finished the game with a career-high 18 points to go along with three rebounds, an assist and two steals.

With the Red leading, 24-16, with eight minutes left in the first half, a layup and two free throws by the Titans cut the lead to four. After sophomore forward DJ Nix sank a three-pointer to put an end to Cal State’s mini run, the Red led by at least seven points for the remainder of the game.

Cornell went on to beat the Titans, 88-70.

One key to the Red’s success was limiting the number of times it turned the ball over. In the team’s first four games of the season, Cornell averaged 16.25 turnovers per game. Against the Titans, the Red was able to limit this figure to just 13.

The team has also shown noticeable improvement in its free throw shooting. In the first three games, the Red made just 61.6 percent of its free throws, compared to 77.1 percent in its previous two games.

The following day, the Red squared off against Utah Valley (4-2, 0-0 WAC) in the Bay Bracket championship. The Wolverines won its semifinal game against Southern Miss, 67-65.

Both teams got off to a slow start out of the gate, combining to miss the first eight field goal attempts of the first half. Senior forward Sean Hansen started the game’s scoring almost three minutes into the game, knocking down a three-point shot.

With 14:49 remaining in the opening half, the Red found itself down, 9-4. A three-pointer from senior forward Keller Boothby and a layup from junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. helped Cornell retake the lead, 10-9. While Utah Valley tied the game two more times, the Red never trailed for the remainder of the game.

Cornell entered halftime with a 28-24 lead. This was the lowest-scoring first half of the season for the Red, with the previous mark being at 39 in the team’s season opener against Lehigh.

After shooting 37.9 percent from the field in the first half, the Red found its scoring rhythm in the second half. The team made 51.6 percent of its field goal attempts and 41.7 percent of its three-pointers.

Cornell led by as many as 22 points and won the game by a final score of 74-61.

Hansen led the team in scoring with 13 points. Another key performer was Ragland Jr. He finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds, marking his first double-double of the season.

The Red will continue its season on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. when it hosts Monmouth. This game will be streamed live on ESPN+.