Cornell fights back but falls to Princeton in overtime

Despite a comparatively quiet night from Matt Morgan, the Cornell Big Red were able to overcome a 10-point second half hole to force overtime against the visiting Princeton Tigers.

But unlike last season at Newman Arena, Cornell couldn’t put the Tigers away in extra time, as Princeton won its seventh straight game to improve to 12-5 (4-0 Ivy) and remain first in the conference, while Cornell dropped back to .500 at 10-10 (2-2) and still very much in the Ivy Madness picture.

The first half was very back-and-forth up until 2:31 to go when Cornell’s Steven Julian split two free throws. From there to the half, Princeton finished on a 8-0 run to take a 31-23 lead at the break.

Princeton advanced their lead to 10 points early on in the half, but then things went wrong for the Tigers. Joel Davis was able to steal the ball from Princeton’s former top-100 recruit Jaelin Llewellyn, for a lob from Matt Morgan to Steven Julian. Not just that, Llewellyn went down hard on what appeared to be a serious knee injury. He was helped off the court with support from training staff, and received treatment on the bench and never returned.

On the other end, Richmond Aririguzoh converted a three-point play, but then Cornell began their run. They slowly chipped away and finally took a lead with 7:02 to go thanks to a little floater by Jimmy Boeheim for his only two points.

Princeton scored off a Jose Morales layup to take a five-point lead with 3:11 to go but didn’t score for the remainder of regulation. Terrance McBride went 1-of-2 from the line, Julian had another dunk, and Warren hit two free-throws with 18 seconds to go to tie the game. Two attempts to win the game didn’t go from close range for the Tigers, and for the second straight time that the Tigers came to Ithaca, we went to overtime.

Cornell had the momentum going into overtime, but Princeton was able to completely wipe away what happened in the previous 40 minutes to focus on a five-minute contest, outscoring Cornell 14-5 in it.

Princeton won the tip and in its first possession got fouled, putting Myles Stephens to the line. Stephens hit both, and Matt Morgan responded quickly with a three. But after that three, it was all Princeton with a Aririguzoh dunk and a tough Stephens jumper in back-to-back possessions. After that, Princeton’s remaining eight points came from the line, as Cornell went ice cold and Princeton survived by a score of 80-71.

Aririguzoh led the Tigers with 20 points, while Stephens registered 15 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Schwieger had 14 points and five rebounds, while Morales gave Princeton its nine bench points. Llewellyn had just four points before his early exit.

A really strange game

Cornell shot just 37 percent from the field, compared to 51 percent from the Tigers. But Cornell still managed to play Princeton very close. How, may you ask? For once we can say that Cornell dominated the offensive glass, 11-4, despite being outrebounded 36-32 overall. Cornell forced a ton of turnovers for the second straight night, 18 in this game, and 19 the previous night against Penn.

There were only 14 combined assists in the game despite the extra period. Both teams left six free throws on the table, but Cornell shot just 15 free throws compared to Princeton’s 26.

The officiating in the game was rather poor, blown calls going both ways but more seeming to go against the Big Red. They missed a few potential Princeton travels in Cornell’s full court pressure, and had a few questionable foul calls against Cornell. Better officiating may of resulted in Cornell pulling the game out in regulation.

How Cornell coped with a quieter than usual Matt Morgan

Matt Morgan wasn’t necessarily struggling for Cornell; he just wasn’t dominant. He had 16 points (enough to move into third place in Ivy history) shooting 50 percent, and Josh Warren also had 16 points to go with six boards. Steven Julian had a season-high 12 points and eight rebounds, while continuing to bring his strong defensive presence. Jimmy Boeheim struggled in the game, going 1-for-9 from the field. Cornell got 13 combined bench points from Terrance McBride, Jake Kuhn, Jack Gordon, and Bryan Knapp.

Despite allowing Princeton to shoot 51 percent, Cornell was able to take 18 more shots than Princeton by forcing turnovers and finishing on the fast break. The Cornell offense looked improved in the seven minutes Morgan was on the bench for, a huge plus. Scoring or not, Cornell is a better team with Morgan on the floor and he conducted the offense well though he wasn’t dominating. In four conference games, there has been more sharing of the scoring load, but the Big Red just need to do it with more efficiency.

Cornell misses Stone Gettings

Despite going 1-1 on the weekend, Cornell showed that it’s a team that shouldn’t be messed around with. The Big Red beat a Penn team on Friday fresh off a Big 5 sweep and impressive wins at Miami and New Mexico. Princeton swept that Penn team, and Cornell nearly knocked off the Tigers.

But Cornell is currently at 10-10 with a few really tough losses that may not have happened if Stone Gettings had stayed at Cornell. Gettings and Morgan were one of the best scoring duos in the country, and in back-to-back games last season against Niagara and Delaware they both eclipsed 30 points.

But two three-point losses against Niagara and Columbia, both on the road, are probably wins with Gettings in tow. Gettings obviously makes it more likely for Cornell to pull off the upset at Syracuse, and his presence may have also been enough for a win here against Princeton. It’s always annoying to dwell on “what ifs,” but Stone Gettings’s absence brings about a lot of them.

Next weekend

Cornell: The Big Red travel north for their first New England Ivy trip of the year, at Dartmouth and then Harvard.

Princeton: The Tigers also go to New England, but for a trip to Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.