Cornell hangs on to top Columbia, 60-59

The Cornell Big Red entertained the Columbia Lions in the Ivy opener for both schools in frigid and snowy Ithaca. The tip-off was moved up to 1:30 p.m. in anticipation of the first big winter storm of the season.

Matt Morgan, the Ivy’s leading scorer, was honored in a pregame ceremony upon entering the league’s 2,000-point club in his last outing. Entering the game needing six points to surpass the legendary Ryan Wittman as Cornell’s career leader, Morgan needed only five minutes to set the new mark. His 21 points for the game vaulted him into fourth place on the Ivy career scoring list. He is on a pace to move up to the No. 2 spot, trailing only Bill Bradley.

Morgan’s early flourish jump started Cornell to a 14-0 lead. At the break, the Big Red held a commanding 39-25 lead, thanks to nine three-pointers against only two for the Lions. Morgan’s 19 first-half tallies more than tripled the output of any Lion.

Unfortunately for the Lions, their cold shooting persisted into the second half. Columbia needed almost six minutes to record their second field goal. With about 13 minutes remaining Cornell enjoyed the largest lead of the afternoon, 50-32. Timeout Columbia.

Whatever Jim Engles said to his beleaguered quintet, a different team emerged from the brief respite. The Big Red went ice cold, while the Lions, sparked by the efforts of Gabe Stefanini, went on a 26-7 run. This remarkable stretch was capped by three straight Stefanini hoops, to give the visitors their only lead of the contest, 58-57, with 2:31 remaining.

Cornell regrouped. A Jimmy Boeheim three at the 2:02 mark restored the Big Red’s lead at 60-58. The affair turned into a sloppy turnover fest at that point. Missed shots by the Lions resulted in one-and-one opportunities for both Morgan and Boeheim in the final minute. Both missed the front end. A Cornell foul sent Stefanini to the line for two shots to tie the game with 3.8 seconds remaining. He missed the second! Columbia snared the offensive rebound but barely drew iron at the buzzer. Cornell hung on, 60-59.

Columbia did an excellent job on Morgan in the second half, holding the senior to just two points. The difference in the game can be traced to the three-point stats. Cornell made 13 to five for the Lions. Stefanini canned 18 for the Lions, no consolation after missing the chance to send the game into overtime.

These teams square off again next week in Manhattan.

7 thoughts on “Cornell hangs on to top Columbia, 60-59”

  1. No matter how good Columbia’s foul shooting percentage in a particular year, historically,it is always their poor foul shooting in close games that dooms them. Even their best foul shooters generally do poorly at the end of games. It could not hurt to have more foul shooting practice

  2. Randy Brumant went 1 for 5 on 3 pointers . This is reminiscent of Cory Osetowski who started taking 3’s after he initially shot a high percentage in a small sample. In both cases it hasn’t ended well. Both Osetowski and Brumant are(were) effective inside players and going inside would have resulted in higher absolute and effective field goal percentages. The time to see if the numbers work for 3 point shots was the non conference season not the conference season.
    Jim Engles was right two years ago that Killingsworth’s shots would start falling and they certainly have, so hopefully he has the correct insight on Tai Bibbs as well. I certainly am rooting for him.

  3. Toothless Tiger, get your facts straight. Just a minor point, but Columbia took its only lead in the game at 58-57, not 57-56. This occurred with 2-and-one-half minutes left. Then the Syracuse coach’s son hit a 3
    with 2 minutes left, making the score 60-58, Cornell. Then Stefanini went to the line for two foul shots, only hitting one, to make the score 60-59, Cornell, with 3 seconds left. Then Brumant rebounded, but couldn’t score, end of game. MORGAN ONLY SCORED 2 POINTS IN THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF!, even missing 3 foul shots in the last 3-and-one-half minutes. Missing those foul shots indicates that he must have been totally exhausted for the entire second half. The only points scored in the last two minutes
    was the single foul shot by Stefanini.

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