Explosive second half powers Cornell past Penn, 80-71

Cornell trailed for almost the entire first half, going down as many as 10 at times but outscored Penn 50-34 in the second half to come from behind and beat the defending Ivy League champion for its first win against Penn in six years. Cornell improved to 10-9 (2-1 Ivy), while Penn dropped to 12-7 (0-3).

As would be expected, Penn didn’t go down easy. A Michael Wang layup forced a 59-59 tie, but Matt Morgan got two good looks from three and knocked both down for Cornell. It continued to go back and forth until Morgan went to pull up from the elbow but passed out of the shot to a wide open Warren for an easy layup, putting Cornell up 72-71. Penn didn’t score for the final 2:28 of the game, while Cornell went 6-for-8 from the line down the stretch. Add a Morgan layup, and Cornell pulled out an 80-71 win over the defending Ivy champs who just came off sweeping the Big 5, including a win over last year’s national champion, Villanova.

Bryce Washington and Devon Goodman combined for five of Penn’s seven first-half threes, while Cornell got off to another rough start on offense. Josh Warren was able to score 15 of his 19 points on the night in the first half to keep Cornell in the game, using a plethora of moves that resulted in post hooks and threes. Warren hit two first half threes, while freshman Dean Noll came off the bench and hit a three for his only points of the game. Cornell finally hit a few shots in the final minutes of the half, but still trailed by seven at the half.

Cornell came out attacking right away in the second half, opening with the ball and finding Jimmy Boeheim down low for an easy layup. Their defense came back by throwing traps and forcing AJ Brodeur to cough up the ball, with Julian finishing down low on the other end. Just 33 seconds into the half, Cornell cut the lead to four and their former head coach Steve Donahue was calling for a timeout on Penn’s sideline. Cornell kept attacking and went on a 21-7 run to open the half, taking a 51-44 lead with 11:15 to go.

An unheralded X-factor

As said earlier, Cornell had trouble scoring in the first half, but Warren’s 15 kept them in the game. Morgan scored just six points in the first half, but it was just a matter of time when he would take over. And of course, he did. He scored 19 second-half points, making 25 total. He also pitched in eight rebounds and four assists. Warren had eight rebounds as well. Jimmy Boeheim had 11 points off three nice drives and finishes at the hoop, and added five free throws. Julian notched five points, five rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.

But the X-factor in the game wasn’t any of those four players. It was actually sophomore guard Terrance McBride, who finally became aggressive and had three great finishes down low in tough defense, and drew the foul for the and-one twice. He hit five of his six free throws on the night.

How Cornell won despite poor rebounding

One of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country, Cornell got destroyed on the boards. The Big Red were out-rebounded 46-32, and 16-3 on the offensive end. Penn did have a few lucky bounces on its shots that wound up right in its hands, but Cornell just couldn’t quite grasp the rebounds cleanly.

But there were a few things that Cornell did really well that made up for it. First of all, the home team took care of the ball, especially down the stretch. Cornell committed just nine turnovers, and Penn ended up with 19. Cornell also forced Penn into serious foul trouble, Bryce Washington fouled out with eight minutes to go, and Devon Goodman followed later. Wang and Antonio Woods would each wind up with four. But even though Cornell struggled from the line early on, they shot 25-for-36 from the line.

Penn’s contributions

Penn had four men score in double figures. Brodeur led the visitors with 17, Wang registered 16, Washington has 15, and Goodman 12. Most of Wang’s and Brodeur’s points came in the second half. Brodeur also hauled in a whopping 16 rebounds, ending up with an impressive double-double. He also had five assists, and Wang had four. Penn was limited to just 40 percent from the floor, compared to 46 percent for the Big Red.

The second half of the back-to-back

Cornell: The Big Red take on Princeton, fresh off a 55-43 win at Columbia that kept the Tigers undefeated in conference play. Princeton shot just 35 percent against Columbia and is still without senior guard Devin Cannady. Cornell and Princeton match up on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Newman Arena on ESPN+.

Penn: The Quakers will now slink down to Manhattan, hoping to pick up their first conference win at Columbia. That game is at 8 p.m. at Levien Gym on ESPN+.

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