Princeton’s stirring comeback win over Columbia Friday night, when the Tigers unleashed a 51-point second half avalanche, thrilled the announced crowd of 35 fans. Word quickly spread that something special was unfolding in Jadwin Gym. Another seven of the Tiger faithful showed up for Saturday night’s welcome home party for favorite son and Cornell coach Brian Earl.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Dartmouth held a one-point lead at the half, but Cornell shot 60% in the second half and fended off several late rallies to win the Ivy League opener on Sunday, 79-71.
“It was exactly what the Ivy League is going to be like,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “[Dartmouth] knew exactly what we were going to do and we had to fight through it. They are a veteran team. It’s a pretty good win.”
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Cornell made 15 three-pointers over Syracuse’s long 2-3 zone on Wednesday, but a 21-5 run in the second half pushed the Orange ahead by 19 points, eventually winning, 80-68.
“We needed to make a few more [shots],” coach Brian Earl said. “I thought we played pretty hard. [Syracuse is] really hard to guard.”
Most people overlooked Cornell ahead of this season. Picked seventh in the Ivy League poll, many expected the Big Red wouldn’t be much of a factor and that the team would likely win few games.
But a month into the season, the Big Red are well on their way to 10 wins before conference play even starts.
Nobody expected the Big Red to start 8-1. With nearly a brand new roster, Brian Earl’s squad has already won more games than the entire 2019-20 season, a team led by now-Syracuse star Jimmy Boeheim.
“It’s really fun,” senior forward Kobe Dickson said after a win over Canisius last week. “I love these guys [and] it’s nice to be winning with them.”
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Cornell men’s basketball continued a trend Big Red fans haven’t seen much of since the days of Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Jeff Foote.
With its second consecutive victory in which the team never trailed, Cornell won its sixth game of the season on Monday, defeating the Canisius Golden Griffins, 89-75.
“I thought we played well for a while,” coach Brian Earl said. “Somewhere in the second half, we lost track of ourselves … It’s good to get a win.”
Cornell (6-1) jumped out to a 16-6 lead over Canisius (2-5) after three-pointers from sophomores Sean Hansen and Keller Boothby to set an early tone. The two scored 10 points and eight points, respectively.
“It’s good to get those guys to come in and have confidence,” Earl said. “Most guys have the green light to shoot if they can shoot.”
The Golden Griffins fought back to trail by just two points with 9:39 to go in the first half, but a 25-11 run sparked off 57% shooting as a team gave the Big Red a 46-30 advantage at the break.
Cornell continued its hot shooting early in the second half, opening on an 11-2 run sparked by two three-pointers from junior guard Jordan Jones. He scored 14 points off 5-for-7 shooting.
“I rep them in practice and I rep them over the summer,” Jones said. “It’s just about putting them together in the games for me. I had a good little start, but I hadn’t been hitting too many shots recently, so now it’s just about getting back to business.”
The Big Red led by as many as 27 points, but technical fouls on Jones and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week Nazir Williams gave the Golden Griffins some momentum. Canisius narrowed its deficit to just 12 points with six minutes remaining, but Cornell held on for the 14-point victory.
“We just have to figure out how to act like winners,” Earl said. “It’s just unnecessary comments to everybody. Stuff that’s not college basketball … It’s about being mature in a space we haven’t been in a lot, and that’s having a winning record.
Senior forward Kobe Dickson led Cornell in the scoring column, posting a career-high 17 points off 7-for-9 shooting.
“It was nice to see the ball go in the hoop finally,” Dickson said. “Me being able to shoot opens up the middle of the lane for cuts, so defenses can’t sink off me and clog up the lane.”
Junior guard Greg Dolan returned to hometown Buffalo for the first time collegiately, scoring 12 points off perfect 5-for-5 shooting and dishing eight assists.
“Fun to be back in town,” Dolan said. “My sister plays here, my dad works here, so it was fun to go out on the court we always played on as little kids.”
Cornell shot 62% from the field, higher than its free-throw percentage at 58%. The Big Red connected on 11 of 22 three-point attempts, hitting more than 10 for the fourth time this season.
“It’s good to make those shots,” Earl said. “We’re not going always to be able to shoot so well from the field, and you are going to have to rely on those moments when you get to the line.”
For Canisius, Malek Green scored 19 points and Scott Hitchon scored 16. The Golden Griffins shot 38% from the field, 21% from deep and lost the rebound battle, 37-31.
Next, Cornell welcomes Coppin State in the first leg of a two-game homestand on Friday. The Eagles have played 10 games in three weeks to open the season at a 1-9 clip and will come to town after a game at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.
“They have to play a tough schedule,” Earl said. “They are all over the place for their reasons. We’ve got to respect them as much as we can and make sure we do what we do.”
ITHACA, N.Y. — Freshman guard Nazir Williams scored 21 points off efficient 7-for-10 shooting to pace Cornell on Wednesday as the Big Red took down Saint Francis (Pa.), 93-80.
Cornell (5-1) fell behind 4-2 in the opening minutes, but a 9-0 run put the hosts ahead 11-4 over Saint Francis (1-3).
The Big Red would never trail again.
Just one Ivy League men’s basketball team remains undefeated through a week of action, and it isn’t either conference favorite in Harvard or Yale. Instead, it’s the Cornell Big Red, searching for their first 3-0 start in 25 seasons on Tuesday against Colgate at Newman Arena.
Cornell doesn’t have the star power its opponents have, but the team has shown its depth through season-opening wins at Binghamton and Lafayette. The team has also shown resiliency, coming up with big stops and timely shot-making in 76-69 and 90-85 victories over the Bearcats and Leopards, respectively.