Cornell can’t come all the way back in 73-70 loss to Columbia

Saturday’s rematch between Cornell and Columbia had a very similar flow as last week’s game in Ithaca. This time, though, it was Cornell tasked with making a comeback that ultimately fell just short.

The Big Red were down 11 points with 8:18 to go after a Patrick Tape post move, with all the momentum cutting against them. Columbia opened the second half shooting flawlessly, led by Gabe Stefanini and Quinton Adlesh, hitting 12 of its first 13 shots from the floor.

But down 67-57 with 6:14 to go, the dynamic duo of Matt Morgan and Jimmy Boeheim hit back-to-back threes, and it was quickly a four-point game.

After 2:20 of no scoring on either sides, Jack Gordon, in his first game action since Dec. 1, hit two free throws and made it a two-point game. Three Josh Warren free throws on two separate trips to the foul line later cut Cornell’s lead to one with 39 ticks left.

But Adlesh responded both times, first with a challenging layup and later with a tough, high-arcing mid-range jumper over Steven Julian that put Columbia up 71-68 with 14 seconds left.

But on the other end, Cornell was in the midst of another great defensive sequence, but Quinton Adlesh spoiled it with a tough arcing, mid-range jumper over Steven Julian. This put Columbia up three with 12 ticks left, and Matt Morgan subsequently broke the Lions’ full-court press for an uncontested layup in just five seconds.

After Stefanini made up for his would-be game-tying free-throw miss with 3.8 seconds left in a 60-59 loss at Newman Arena last weekend.

Columbia had a hard time inbounding after Cornell called timeout to set their defense, but finally Stefanini broke loose and got fouled. Stefanini was in a very similar situation as last week in Ithaca, but made both shots, putting his team up three.

Cornell had one timeout but elected not to take it. The ball was inbounded to big man Riley Voss, and the Lions had totally screened off Morgan, who they assumed would shoot the shot. They kept him far back, while Voss had a wide open floor. He dribbled it up and fired a deep three-pointer, and that ball went off the glass and then hit every part of the rim before it fell to the ground. Inches from sending the game to overtime. Cornell instead lost, 73-70.

Offensively, Cornell was a two-man wrecking crew. Boeheim led Cornell with 22 points, and Morgan posted 21. Morgan had five early points but wasn’t himself the rest of the half after Patrick Tape clobbered him going for a board, flying into the air and then face-first into the floor.

Boeheim was very quiet in the first half, as was the entire team. Boeheim scored 18 of his 22 points in the second stanza. Cornell scored just 23 points in the first half, but Columbia fared only five tallies better. Warren filled out the stat-sheet with nine points, eight rebounds, and four assists while making some clutch free-throws down the stretch. Steven Julian had seven points off two vicious dunks and an easy layup, also nabbing three steals.

Cornell’s first-half play took it out of this game. The Big Red left eight free throws on the table and turned the ball over 12 times, allowing the Lions to make 61 percent of their two-point field goals.

The Big Red begin back-to-back play Friday by hosting defending Ivy champion Penn. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. Cornell fans hope the Big Red will beat Penn for the first time since Steve Donahue took over on 33rd Street in 2015, five years after leaving Campus Road.

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