Three-pointers abound as Cornell falls in the first round of the CIT

Jimmy Boeheim went off for a career-high 31 points on a very efficient 14-for-20 shooting night and Matt Morgan stuffed the stat sheet one last time, but the Robert Morris Colonials couldn’t miss in overtime, beating the Big Red, 98-89, in the first round of the CIT. The loss has ended the Big Red’s season at 15-16.

The Big Red led for the majority of the game, leading by double figures at times in both halves. Jimmy Boeheim led the game off scoring the first six points before guess who? Matt Morgan hit a three. Cornell led all first half, and kept that lead until an eight-point deficit turned into a one-point Robert Morris lead with 6:53 left.

The final seven minutes of regulation went back and forth, but the Big Red found themselves down three points with 38 seconds left after a pair of Colonial free throws. Morgan brought it down the floor and went right to the hoop, drawing a foul and two shots before hitting both. Cornell forced a quick turnover, but a heavily contested layup from Jimmy Boeheim was off and Matt Morgan had to foul and sent Robert Morris to the line.

The Colonials split the free throws, then Matt Morgan popped a quick floater with 12 seconds left to tie the game at 82. Two missed shots on the Robert Morris end, and off we went to overtime.

Robert Morris didn’t mess around in overtime. Jon Williams hit a jumper and then Matty McConnell, younger brother of the Philadelphia 76ers’ T.J. McConnell, hit three consecutive threes, compared to just a Jimmy Boeheim bucket for the Big Red. After the threes, Jack Gordon hit a layup, but two free throws by McConnell and a Williams three sealed the deal, and Cornell’s season came to an end.

Brothers Jon and Josh Williams combined for 56 points, while Matty McConnell had 27 for the Colonials of Moon Township, Pa.

Both teams combined to shoot 26-for-59 (44.1 percent) from deep (16-for-34 for RMU, 10-for-25 for CU).

60 percent shooting couldn’t win the game

Yes, you read that right. Cornell shot 60 percent from the floor (well 59.3 percent, to be exact), and still lost by nine. How exactly does that happen? Too many turnovers and terrible rebounding. Cornell had 20 turnovers, obviously much higher than normal. The Big Red are generally just above average in terms of turnovers, but they were really bad on Tuesday.

Cornell also allowed Robert Morris to snare 19 offensive rebounds. Yes, 19! That’s about 17 too many.

Compared to 59 percent shooting for the Big Red, Robert Morris shot 45 percent and canned 16 threes. Cornell had 10 threes, but six of them came from Boeheim and Morgan.

Matt Morgan had 24 points, six assists, and four rebounds in his final collegiate basketball game. He shot the ball at a good clip, 8-for-13, in what was one of the most complete games in his career. Steven Julian also had six assists and four rebounds.

A big part of postseason tournaments like the CIT is to gain experience for younger players. Riley Voss, Thurston McCarty, Kobe Dickson, Chaz Mack and Bryan Knapp all came off the bench and found the way into the scoring column. Matthew Harshany, a prolific scorer, will bring a lot to the Big Red next season. He is currently a freshman and has been hurt all season.

A big thank you

Congratulations to all the seniors on fantastic collegiate careers. Everyone at Ivy Hoops Online wishes you all the best of luck in the future. An extra congratulations goes out to Matt Morgan on a legendary career, now second in conference history in total scoring and among the best scorers in the history of college basketball.

In the coming days, there will be a Big Red season recap posted in this space, diving into the good and the bad of Cornell’s season as well as the program’s overall outlook. There will also be a piece coming out on the historic career of Matt Morgan, so stay tuned over the next week or so for that as well.

In the meantime, happy March Madness!

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