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Throwback Thursday: A Season Opening Upset for Big Red Basketball

This week in 1970, the Big Red Basketball team played its season opener against Penn State in Barton Hall. It had been 28 years since the Big Red last defeated the Nittany Lions with a 28-25 victory in 1942. Since then, average scores had increased in games, and Cornell was hoping to break the streak against this non-conference rival.

The previous 1969 season for the Big Red was not considered a successful campaign. The squad was 7-16 and fell to Penn State 83-67. Coach Lace was hoping that in 1970, Cornell would be able to defeat the Nittany Lions. He found that the biggest challenge they faced would be crushing the opposition’s tall forwards with an average height of six feet and seven inches. Penn State would be starting Paul Neumayer at center (6’9″), and the forwards would be Bob Fittin (6’7″) and Bill Kunzy (6’5″). The Big Red started Rick Amato (6’4″) as center, Ken Wiens and John Coles as forwards, and Tom Sparks and Glen Mueller in the backcourt.

Ultimately, Cornell upset the Nittany Lions with a score of 69-59. This was an amazing season opener and propelled the team’s confidence and strength for the remainder of the year.


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