No Nazir Williams, no problem.
Despite missing the standout sophomore guard due to injury, the Cornell men preserved and overcame a difficult perimeter shooting afternoon to defeat Brown, 80-73, Saturday at Newman Arena.
Cornell coach Brian Earl was forced to alter the starting lineup for the first time all season with Williams’ absence, inserting junior guard Chris Manon.
Manon justified the move, scoring a career-high 23 points off 10-for-17 shooting, penetrating toward the rim each time he had the ball. Each of his baskets came within a stone’s throw of the basket.
Manon’s interior presence was needed for the Big Red down the stretch. In the first half, the hosts shot 2-for-14 from downtown and trailed 35-33 after 20 minutes.
The Big Red trailed by six with 17 minutes remaining before taking their first lead of the half with 12:35 remaining after a Manon finish. Cornell pushed its lead to nine with 5:15 remaining, but Brown fought back. Senior guard Paxson Wojcik and sophomore guard Kino Lilly Jr. made a pair of threes with a Cornell backcourt violation in between to cut it down to two.
But Big Red sophomore guard Guy Ragland Jr. connected on a three-pointer to put Cornell up 78-73 and give the hosts the final shot of momentum to seal the victory.
Senior guard Greg Dolan added 14 for the Big Red and junior guard Isaiah Gray added 11. Freshman guard Josh Baldwin played arguably his best game of the season, adding eight off the bench for a new career high.
Wojcik lit up Newman Arena for 22 points, including four three-pointers. Lilly added 17 and sophomore Aaron Cooley added 11. Sophomore forward Nana Owusu-Anane had nine points and 12 boards.
Brown outrebounded Cornell 34-29 but shot just 38% from the field. The Big Red shot 47% from the field and finished at 27% from deep.
The Bears continue their road trip next weekend at Dartmouth and Harvard. Cornell hits the road for Princeton on Friday in a battle of the top two Ivy teams before facing Penn Saturday.
Brown and Cornell rematch in two weeks in Providence.