STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Cornell Big Red were only able to hang around for a few minutes against No. 20 Penn State (11-2), losing a Sunday matinee by a score of 90-59 to conclude 2019.
“They’re enormous and athletic. At our level, it’s rare,” said head coach Brian Earl about the Nittany Lions (11-2). “I know Yale has that sort of size, and they made a fight out of their game [against Penn State]. For us, we just don’t have the horses to match [Mike] Watkins and [Lamar] Stephens.”
The two senior forwards each had 19 points to lead the Nittany Lions.
“Our center is 6’6-6’7 guarding a 6’10 guy who outweighs him by 40 pounds,” Earl added.
Because Penn State’s top two players are forwards, we knew that it would be difficult to slow them down. For the Big Red (1-10), Bryan Knapp and Terrance McBride are the team’s best defenders, and they are guards. They aren’t big enough to defend the two forwards. That puts it on Josh Warren and Jimmy Boeheim to slow them down defensively, and they are at best average defenders.
Leading the Big Red offense was Boeheim with 17 points, however shooting an ugly 5-for-19 from the field. He hit two of his first three shots but was ice cold afterward.
“I got my looks, I got shots up, I just got to make them. I was really inefficient tonight” Boeheim said.
The other main contributor was fellow junior Terrance McBride, who added 12 points. He knocked down both of his three-point attempts and also had five assists.
Speaking of three-point shooting, it was actually the best shooting from deep that the team has had all season. The Big Red connected on eight of their 19 attempts, a 42% clip.
“We haven’t done too much differently,” Earl said. “We work on shooting every day at practice for the three years I’ve been here. We made a couple when the game was out of reach, so we’ll take a look at it, but there’s open shots for us, there have been open shots in our multiple close losses, we just have to step up and make them. I guess it’s good to see the ball go in, but you gotta sorta be able to make them when it’s an actual game.”
Greg Dolan pitched in eight points for the Big Red, the second time we have seen him provide a nice bench spark. They may begin to rely on that spark from the freshman consistently to win games. He’s looking to be playing his way into the rotation.
The Big Red were bullied down low and got outrebounded by 15, but did a nice job on the perimeter, allowing the Nittany Lions to shoot just 31% from deep. Most of Penn State’s points came from in the paint or from 15 to 17-foot jumpers.
Cornell also was quite sloppy with 17 turnovers and got into some foul trouble. Jordan Jones fouled out, Josh Warren had three, and Boeheim had three with two of them coming in the first three minutes of the game.
Next up, the Big Red will host SUNY-Purchase on January 7. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Newman Arena.
“We gotta be better at managing runs from the other team,” said Boeheim. “Really just closing out games and putting a full 40 minutes together.”
Cornell will look to snap its game losing streak with conference play looming.