Saturday’s contest between Harvard and Cornell was the exact opposite of Friday’s games for both teams, in the sense that offense would come at a premium.
After the Crimson dropped 98 points Friday in triple overtime, they were held to just 61 points on Saturday as Cornell stormed back to erase a 15-point second-half deficit to win the game, 67-61. Despite struggling to get shots all game, Matt Morgan had 15 points, good enough to move into second-place in conference history in career points (2,162), a night after meeting Jim Barton, the man he just surpassed.
Great to meet an Ivy League legend last night at his alma mater! Jim Barton was a great player and an even better role model for us as players! Thank you for the words of wisdom! Hope to see you again soon! pic.twitter.com/D5PwRQKgpr
— Matt Morgan (@TheRealMM10) February 10, 2019
Cornell moved up to 12-10 (4-2 Ivy) and Harvard dropped to 11-8 (4-2). Cornell has already met last season’s win total, with eight games remaining on the schedule.
The game remained close until 6:54 left in the first half, but Harvard pulled ahead to a 13-point lead at the break thanks to a 17-2 run led by Bryce Aiken, who had 17 points in the first half. Matt Morgan was held to just five first-half points, compared to the 20 points he had at the break the night before at Dartmouth.
But in the second half, Harvard started off strong in the first few minutes, but then went with only two points for five minutes and it allowed Cornell to get back into it. Led by three three-pointers by Jimmy Boeheim, five points from Josh Warren, and a strong penetration layup by Terrance McBride, the Big Red cut the lead to three.
Then 17-percent three-point shooter Steven Julian swished a wide-open three to tie the game, his only field goal of the night with 8:46 to go.
When Harvard fought back, then Matt Morgan finally got going, hitting seven free throws in a span of a little over two minutes. With the game tied at 59 with 2:05 to go, Matt Morgan drove and finished with a beautiful swooping layup and drew a foul, converting the three-point play. Christian Juzang responded right away with a mid-range jumper with 1:48 to go, with it ending up being Harvard’s final points.
A few messy possessions go by, with a missed three by Juzang and a missed layup by Terrance McBride, McBride redeemed himself and hit a huge three with 33 seconds to go, off a great pass from Jimmy Boeheim, who was cutting across the top of the paint. Harvard had a few missed threes on the other end, kept alive by offensive rebounds, but Cornell finally gained control of the ball with two seconds left, and McBride put the icing on the cake with two free throws.
Friday’s marathon hurt Harvard
A lot of questions surrounded Harvard entering Saturday evening’s game against Cornell after its 55-minute, triple overtime victory over Columbia the night before. One of the Crimson’s top players, Justin Bassey, sat out on Saturday. But Bryce Aiken played and didn’t show any signs of fatigue, still dropping 24 points on 75 percent shooting (9-for-12). Juzang passed his season average with 12 points, and Chris Lewis had 10 but still continued to struggle after Friday, especially in the second half after going a perfect 3-for-3 in the first stanza. He finished the night 4-for-10.
Noah Kirkwood had seven points but fouled out late into the game. Danilo Djuricic was able to step it up off of the bench and provide a team-high eight rebounds.
Both teams played extremely sloppily, Harvard being the worst of the two. Harvard committed 24 turnovers compared to 17 for Cornell. Harvard also fouled more than Cornell, giving the Big Red more trips to the foul line, outscoring Harvard 19-11 there. Cornell found more success from three than Harvard, hitting 10 threes compared to Harvard’s six.
Harvard relied on the isolation to score, only registering seven assists. This did not please Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, who called his team’s play “selfish” after the game, according to Steve Hewitt of the Boston Herald. Harvard remained without star forward Seth Towns, and Corey Johnson sat out his second straight game.
Cornell found a way to win with Matt Morgan struggling
Matt Morgan had a very opposite, un-Matt Morgan like game Saturday compared to Friday. He had 15 points, only getting seven shots making three of them, with a career-high seven turnovers. He missed a good portion of the second half due to foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with about eight minutes left. Despite going into the later part of the second half at five points, he still found a way to take over when needed and others stepped up when necessary.
Boeheim led Cornell with 16 points, including four threes. Warren had another good night, with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Julian had a game-high eight rebounds while adding three points and helping Cornell finally draw even in the second half with a big three.
McBride came off the bench for some late heroics, having nine total points including the game sealing three-pointer, and free-throws.
As said earlier, Matt Morgan finally moved into second in conference history in points, now trailing only Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley. It remains very unlikely for Morgan to get the record unless Cornell were to make a deep run into a postseason tournament.
Don’t mess with the Big Red
Going into the season, people expected that Cornell would struggle mightily without Stone Gettings. But even without Gettings, the Big Red are proving to be a tough team to face, sitting at a tie for second in the conference almost halfway through conference play. Players are finally starting to step up, the most prominent being Julian and McBride.
Cornell now heads home with a 12-10 record, and 4-2 in conference play to face Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. The Yale game will be the game to watch on Saturday around the league, with a share of first place likely on the line.
Brown is 2-4 in Ivy play but coming off a home win over Princeton. It should be pretty fun to watch Desmond Cambridge go against Matt Morgan.
Harvard has another tough test on Friday
In what will be a crucial game Friday, Harvard will play just its second Ivy road game, traveling down to Princeton to face a team tied with them and Cornell for second place at 4-2. The game will be televised on ESPNEWS.
Princeton had a rough weekend on the road, being swept in Devin Cannady’s return, struggling on Friday but anchoring Princeton Saturday. Jaelin Llewellyn really struggled shooting, hurting Princeton a lot.
Harvard at Princeton on Friday and Yale at Cornell Saturday will be two huge games, likely resulting in the three-way tie for second being separated, and with shares of first place on the line. Cornell could get there the easiest with another weekend sweep.