In a Big Weekend for Men’s Basketball, Cornell Takes Down Brown on Senior Day but Falls to Yal
The Cornell men’s basketball team entered its final homestand of the season sitting at 4-6 and tied for the final playoff spot in Ivy Madness. After holding Yale to just 30 points in the first half and putting together a balanced offensive effort, Cornell took a 37-30 point lead into the half. However, Cornell’s defense faltered early in the second half, as Yale opened with a 17 to 10 run in less than seven minutes to knot the game at 47. Leading by two with two minutes remaining, junior Stone Gettings was fouled on what appeared to be a continuation layup, but the referee’s indication of a foul on the floor led to a one-and-one, in which Gettings missed the front end. Getting rebounded by sinking two free throws with 38 seconds left to put the Big Red up 78 to 77, but Noah Yates of Yale responded with a corner three to put the Bulldogs up by two with 20 seconds left.
After a timeout, star junior guard Matt Morgan was trapped by Yale’s full-court press and committed his only turnover of the game when he there the ball right to Yale’s Trey Phills who took it in for the lay-up to put Yale up by four. Miraculously, with one last look, Matt Morgan was fouled on a three-pointer, giving Cornell perhaps another opportunity to tie the game. After sinking the first two free throws to bring the Big Red within two, Morgan intentionally misled the third and saw Yale last touch the ball before going out of bounds. With two seconds remaining, Cornell would have a look to tie or even win at the buzzer, but after a contested corner-three from Steven Julian went long, all prayers ended. Matt Morgan continued to show his offensive talent as he finished with a game-high 23 points.
Needing a win on Sunday, Cornell hosted Brown on Senior Day, when the Big Red honored seniors Kyle Brown, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof, Pat Smith and Wil Bathurst. Both Brown and Abdur-Ra’off got the opportunity to start in what would be their final home game in front of Newman Nation and both made an impact early. Abdur-Ra’off three down an alley-ooo from Stone Gettings on the first offensive possession of the game, while Kyle Brown drained a corner-three the very next time down the court. After jumping out to a big lead early, Cornell’s offense went cold, as it ended the half shooting three for 14 over the final 11 minutes and went to the locker room trailing 35-31.
The Big Red rebounded in the second half behind great energy from Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof, who knocked down a three-pointer from the wing and split the lane for a hair-raising dunk to put the Big Red up by eight. Brown then capitalized on more poor shooting from Cornell tot are the lead with 3:24 remaining after a 14 to three run. Terrence McBride hit a pair of free throws while Stone Gettings and Steve Julian extended the lead with field goals of their own, which allowed Cornell to regain the lead and ultimately put the game away 73-68. Matt Morgan led all Cornell scorers with 17 points, while Gettings added 12 points, four rebounds and five assists. The win moves the team back into a tie with Columbia at a 5-7 record with one final weekend remaining.
Next weekend, both Cornell and Columbia travel to Harvard and Dartmouth to conclude the season. Harvard currently sits at 10-2 in Ivy League play, while Dartmouth sits at 2-10. Cornell can clinch the final Ivy League playoff spot with two wins and just one Columbia loss, but the process becomes a bit more complicated if the teams split the final weekend series. Due to both schools splitting the season series, the tie would need to be broken by comparing the school’s head-to-head records with each team in the conference, starting with the first-place team. If both schools defeat Dartmouth but lose at Harvard, Columbia would be given the playoff nod due to a victory over the Crimson earlier this season. If Cornell defeats Harvard and loses to Dartmouth while Columbia does the opposite, the teams would need to wait on the results of games from around the league to break the tie. The final weekend should come down to the wire, as Cornell looks to make its first-ever Ivy Madness appearance and keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive.