Cornell’s improbable comeback falls just short at Bryant

Cornell trailed by seven with 13 seconds left. When the buzzer sounded, they were a bucket away from walking away winners.

The Big Red’s improbable comeback fell just short Sunday against the Bryant Bulldogs, as they fell, 82-81.

With the score 82-75, Thurston McCarty drew a foul on a layup, converting the three-point play. McCarty fouled Charles Pride with 11 ticks left, and he missed he front end of the one-and-one. Cornell (1-1) ran it down the floor and then Jimmy Boeheim connected on a three all the way from Ithaca. This quickly cut it to a one-point game.

Now here’s where things get a little funky.

Bryant (1-2) attempted to inbound the ball, but a flagrant foul was called on Cornell’s Terrance McBride. It didn’t really seem to be a flagrant foul, but it didn’t matter because Adam Grant missed both free throws for the Bulldogs.

Due to the location of the foul, Bryant was forced to inbound under the Cornell basket. The Big Red had strong defense and forced Bryant to burn a timeout. After the timeout, the Bulldogs tried to throw it like a football down the court, but the ball went so high that it hit the rafters of the Chace Athletic Center.

So the Big Red had the ball with a second left under their basket and a shot to win it. Jimmy Boeheim made a nice move and got free on the wing, but his three-pointer went long and the Big Red lost by one.

The Big Red were once again led by Boeheim with 20 points. Thurston McCarty had another nice game, this time scoring 17 points and hauling in four boards. Terrance McBride was rock solid all around, scoring 13 points, dropping seven dimes and pulling in six boards. He also registered two steals.

The biggest story on offense was freshman Jordan Jones. Jones had 14 points off the bench and connected on four tough threes in shades of Matt Morgan. (Morgan, by the way, posted 11 points and six assists in his debut with the Raptors 905 on Friday.)

Also chipping in on Sunday was Josh Warren with nine points and 10 rebounds, and Bryan Knapp with eight points and two steals. Only six players recorded points for the Big Red.

Overall, Cornell was again really good on the offensive attack. They had a balanced scoring load and shot 45% from the field. They got the Bulldogs into foul trouble and converted on their free throws. They could’ve used a little more then just Jones and his 14 points off the bench, but if he continues to play that well, his name could crack the starting lineup. Jones played over Knapp down the stretch.

Offensive rebounds & three-point defense

The Big Red were absolutely annihilated on the offensive boards, and their three-point defense was not what it needed to be.

Especially down the stretch, Cornell was completely outrebounded. The Big Red got initial stops in the last eight or so minutes of the game but would then allow an offensive rebound and then second-chance points.

The other thing that went wrong was their three-point defense. They knew coming in that Bryant loves the three-point shot, and Sunday afternoon was no exception. The Bulldogs shot 32 threes and connected on 15 of them. They did make a handful of extremely tough shots, but other times Cornell gave them very makeable looks and they converted on them.

But Bryant is no doubt a much better team then it appears to be on paper. The Bulldogs almost knocked off Rutgers and Brown within the last week, losing each game 73-71. They deserve higher than a No. 305 KenPom ranking.

The Big Red return home on Wednesday to face the NJIT Highlanders. NJIT is 0-2 after losses to Providence and Colgate. Gametime is 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

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