A little more than two weeks ago at the halfway point, Cornell had a 5-2 Ivy League record and looked well in control of the fourth seed for the Ivy League Tournament. But after a home loss to Yale, and two consecutive road weekends that resulted in being swept, Cornell now sits at 5-7 and tied with Penn for fifth, a game behind Brown.
Awful play all around
Cornell had trouble doing anything right this weekend. On Friday night, Cornell never led and Yale jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead, and led 62-31 at halftime. Yes, 62 points for the Bulldogs at the half. Cornell scored 65 points all game and only 51 against Brown. Miye Oni dominated the first half, having 25 of his 30 with 7-for-8 shooting from deep.
Cornell did come out in the second half making things a little interesting, getting it to 67-52 before the under-12 media timeout. But after that, it was all Yale again and the Elis won the game decisively, 88-65.
Matt Morgan really had to work to get to his 79th consecutive game in double figures, good for 12th in college basketball history. He was held to just 11 points and notched his final two with just 3:48 left.
Josh Warren played really well against Yale, leading Cornell with 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting. His offensive production didn’t get there the following night.
By the time the under-16 media timeout hit for Cornell in the first half against Brown, Josh Warren had taken a seat with two fouls, but Cornell was up 12-5. With 12:12 left, Brown had tied it up at 14. Cornell was up 26-21 with 2:40 left, but that’s when Brown took over.
The Bears went on a 29-10 run that spanned over 11 minutes, with Cornell’s offense basically nonexistent. Matt Morgan was actually held scoreless in the first half for the first time in a very long time but had 14 in the second half.
Joel Davis had a season-high 11 points that helped out Matt Morgan during his first-half struggles. Jimmy Boeheim continued his stretch of poor offensive output with just seven points on 2-for-7 shooting. Warren had a poor night offensively with just three points on a layup-and-one.
Cornell’s defense wasn’t half bad, limiting Brown to just 44 percent shooting. But that doesn’t really matter if you shoot 31 percent from the field and 19 percent from three. Not to mention that the officiating was terrible, especially in the first half.
We complimented Cornell’s perimeter defense in the first half of the season, but we’re starting to see that slip a little bit. Brown shot 40 percent from three, and Yale shot well over 50 percent from deep. Cornell’s three-point shooting hasn’t been as good lately, especially with Morgan being locked down for the majority of the last four games.
Cornell didn’t get killed on the boards on Saturday, but the -7 margin hurt them a lot. Brown had six offensive rebounds, all seeming to set up another basket for the Bears. Cornell had three offensive rebounds, and its first two led to first-half daggers. Cornell’s rebounding, specifically offensive rebounding, has continued to be their Achilles heel this season, 350th of 353 Division I teams in offensive rebound percentage, per KenPom.
Cornell now heads home to look for a sweep and get some help to get in to the Ivy League Tournament.
How the Big Red can squeak in for the second straight year
For the second time in as many years, Cornell has some work to do in the final weekend of conference play. Last year, the Big Red were tied with Columbia for fourth going into the final weekend, and the Big Red didn’t have the tiebreaker. This time, Cornell has the potential to get the tiebreaker over Brown and Penn.
Cornell can get that tiebreaker if it beats Harvard and Princeton beats Brown on Friday. Penn also takes on Yale at home on Friday. Cornell wants Yale to win that game, as well as Dartmouth to beat Columbia, but that last game may be irrelevant in the end. If all that happens, all Cornell would have to do is win the game against Dartmouth on Saturday.
If, say, Penn does beat Yale on Friday with Cornell winning and Brown losing, Cornell would get in on a win and a Brown loss to Penn. Cornell has a tiebreaker over Penn if it defeats Harvard on Friday.
If Cornell and Brown are tied after next Saturday without a Cornell win on Friday, Brown would get in based on the average of recent ratings.
Long story short, Cornell’s most likely chance to get into Ivy Madness would be to sweep at home and hope for some help. For Cornell, the teams they need help from do have their hands full in the next two games, and Cornell likely has the best chance to get a sweep this weekend compared to Brown and Penn.
Friday’s big one between Brown and Princeton is on ESPNU, and Harvard vs. Cornell and Yale vs. Penn are both on ESPN+. All games on Saturday are on ESPN+.