ITHACA – I’ve never seen a team so good yet so bad at the same time.
The Cornell men’s basketball team dropped its seventh straight, this time 62-59 to Lafayette at Newman Arena, as Lafayette big man Myles Cherry swished a three-pointer with three seconds left to win it for the Leopards, who are now 4-0 against the Ivy League this season with wins over Penn, Princeton and Columbia as well.
The Big Red (1-7) have now lost four one-possession games, and they could easily be 5-3. What’s held them back has been their three-point shooting.
“This has never happened to me before. On the spectrum of guys I’ve coached, played with; these guys are not bad shooters … It’s an epic drought that I’ve never seen before,” coach Brian Earl said.
The Big Red made just three of their 21 attempts from long range on the afternoon and are 336th in the country from long range.
“We did a good job defensively, doing all the things we set out to do, not turning the ball over,” Earl said.
They limited the Leopards (6-2) to under 45% shooting and 15 points less than their season average. Leading scorer Justin Jaworski was held to just 10 points thanks to outstanding defense from junior guard Bryan Knapp.
“We were just trying to force him baseline and contain him, and it was a team effort. Just switching when we have to [and] just going hard,” said Knapp, who added seven points.
Jimmy Boeheim was outstanding again for the Big Red, scoring 27 points and hauling in eight boards despite going held scoreless for the first 13 minutes of the game.
“[I was] just trusting the work I’ve put in,” Boeheim said. My teammates put me in good spots and made a couple of really good passes to me. It’s just about being tough and trying to finish through guys.”
Jordan Jones added 11 points, hitting an early three and converting on a few tough layups. He also had a couple of really nice defensive plays late in the shot clock.
The first half was super back-and-forth, and it saw the Leopards take a three point lead going into the locker room. At one point in the second half, Lafayette stretched their lead out to seven but the Big Red fought back.
Josh Warren made a nice layup off a pretty pass from Boeheim with 1:28 left, but the Leopards tied it on a layup off the hands of Lukas Jarrett. Jarrett led the Leopards with 17 points.
Jimmy Boeheim responded with a tough layup himself, and then the Leopards called time before Cherry drilled the winner. There were still three seconds left, and the Big Red got it across the half court line before Warren called a timeout. Jordan Jones shot the game-tying attempt, but it was well short. From my angle, it looked like it was going in. It was on line.
“Coach [O’Hanlon] knows what he’s doing. [He] ran a couple actions that they hadn’t done before, just seeing how we were guarding,” said Earl about the last few minutes of the game.
The Leopards outrebounded the Big Red by seven (37-30), but the Big Red turned the ball over just three times compared to 14 times for the Leopards. Cornell shot 38% overall.
The Big Red now go on the road to play upstate New York foe Colgate, another dangerous Patriot League team. The game is on Wednesday in Hamilton, and is slated to tip-off at 7 p.m. on Stadium. Colgate is rated No. 118 in KenPom, and the Big Red have dropped to no. 285.