ITHACA — The Cornell men's basketball team, with nothing at stake, crossed the finish line at a full sprint Saturday night.
The Big Red led for the majority of its season finale against Yale, the Ivy League's third-place team and turned back the Bulldogs with timely 3-pointers in the second half of a 68-55 victory at Newman Arena.
The victory capped a 6-3 finish to the Ivy schedule for Cornell, which started an ugly 0-5 that included a blowout loss at one-win Dartmouth, and a thorough collapse in the final two minutes Feb. 4 at Yale.
A record of 10-18 and 6-8 was a disappointment, but the team's promising finish dominated Saturday's post-game conversation.
"We definitely went through some adversity this year," Cornell junior guard Chris Wroblewski said. "A lot of it can be contributed to a lot of things. ... As the year went on, we just gelled. We became more confident. We went through a lot of losses late. Once we got a few wins then we started believing in ourselves more."
Cornell hit five 3-pointers in a stretch of six field goals to turn a 41-36 lead into a 12-point cushion with 6:04 left. Sophomore Josh Figini knocked down two treys, and senior Adam Wire, sophomore Johnathan Gray and junior Drew Ferry also connected.
Cornell made six of 13 shots from the arc in the second half, part of a 50-percent shooting display.
"Cornell did a great job of doing what they do," Yale coach James Jones said. "They made shots when they had to make shots. We had a couple runs in the second half but couldn't get over the hump."
Jones felt his team's legs weren't fresh after a double-overtime victory Friday night at Columbia. The Bulldogs shot poorly from the field (35 percent), missed 13 of 15 3-point attempts and nine of 20 foul shots.
"We just didn't have a lot to offer on our offensive end," Jones said.
Junior Greg Mangano, who entered the game averaging a double-double, finished with 18 points and five rebounds on 8-for-17 shooting. Cornell senior Mark Coury, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward playing his last collegiate game, made life difficult on the skinnier Mangano.
"I felt we played terrific defense," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "(Saturday night) we really keyed in, locked in and fought our tails off on every possession. Mark Coury's job on Mangano was just terrific. Even though Mangano scored points, he battled for every one of those points."
Ferry led Cornell with 15 points, Anthony Gatlin had 10 off the bench and Wroblewski finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Elsewhere in the Ivy League, Harvard (23-5, 12-2) clinched at least a share of its first league title with a 79-67 home victory over Princeton (23-6, 11-2). The Tigers can force a one-game tiebreaker for the NCAA tournament bid with a win Tuesday at Penn.
Penn won at Dartmouth on Saturday, 70-58, and Columbia beat Brown 91-74.
If Princeton wins Tuesday, Cornell will finish in a tie for fifth place after three years of league championships. Winning a fourth title wasn't expected, but Cornell's players and coaches feel it won't take long to get back into contention.
"Right now, we think we're top two, top three teams in the league," Wroblewski said. "We're playing our best basketball. We're missing three huge pieces that are leaving, but we're ending on a good note. We're going in the right direction."
Notes: Cornell played without sophomore Errick Peck, who missed the game to attend his grandmother's funeral. ... Wroblewski finished the season with 149 assists, the fourth highest single-season total in Cornell history, and the most since David Bradfield's 150 in the 1953-54 season.
Cornell Daily Sun
The men’s basketball team ended its season with a decisive win over Yale, 68-55, at Newman Arena on senior night. The Red’s three seniors — Adam Wire, Mark Coury and Aaron Osgood — were honored in a pregame ceremony, with Wire and Coury starting and Osgood making a brief appearance in the final minute despite battling injuries. Cornell (10-18, 6-8 Ivy League) finished a season that got off to a rocky start with a three-game winning streak that included victories over Penn, Brown and Yale.
“We have come a long way,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “The main improvement was we gained experience. You have to have those game situations in order to learn and we learned from those losses; we were able to improve shooting and play a lot better down the stretch.”
In Saturday’s game against Yale, junior Andrew Ferry led the Red in scoring with 15 points, while junior Chris Wroblewski and senior Anthony Gatlin scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Yale had swept Dartmouth and Harvard at home preceding the game against Cornell, while the Red entered the contest after earning two impressive wins against Penn and Brown.
The last time Cornell played Yale, the Red lost in a heartbreaker in the final two minutes, 71-70, after losing its 10-point lead late in the game.
There was no such second-half slump in this game; the Red scored 38 points in the second session, which resulted in a 13-point Cornell lead with 17:30 remaining. Yale cut down the lead down to five points with eight minutes left, but unlike the last game was unable to close the gap.
The Red held the Bulldogs to 35-percent shooting from the floor and 13 percent from 3-point land, compared to Cornell’s 46.4-percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent from downtown. Additionally, Yale only converted 55 percent of its free throw opportunities (11-of-20) compared to Cornell’s pristine 7-of-7. Cornell’s bench outscored Yale’s, 42-8. Despite 18 points from 6-10, 240-pound center Greg Mangano — the Ivy League’s scoring leader with an average of 16.3 points per game — Cornell controlled the game from the beginning until the end, making all four free throws and a layup in the game’s last two minutes.
Although the two games this season against Yale had different outcomes, the game plan was ultimately the same. According to Ferry, the team focused on limiting Mangano by having players nearby to assist with defending, which forced Mangano to take tougher shots.
“It was a lot of the same things. We really wanted to speed them up, especially focusing on helping [defend] Mangano … He’s a real good player,” Ferry said. “The main difference was simply how we finished the game. We kind of gave up in the last minutes of the last game and [Saturday] we were able to stand firm and close the game out.”
The win was bittersweet as it signified the end of an era in Cornell basketball, with the graduation of the last members of Cornell’s three-time Ivy League championship team.
“It’s going to be a tough loss. They have a lot of energy, a lot of leadership and a lot of production. They are great guys, great friends, great teammates. We are losing some friends its tough, but we wish them well and know they will be successful in whatever they do,” Ferry said.
Despite the loss of Coury, Osgood and Wire, Courtney is optimistic that the team will take the momentum it gained in the latter half of this season and get off to a better start next year.
“Our goal for next season is to win more games and for everybody to become better players individually and collectively; better defensively, better offensively,” Courtney said. “We have a lot more returns next year. Last year since five [seniors] left we didn’t have a lot of experience, but now we have returning players with a lot more experience.”
Ferry scored a team-high 15 points and Wroblewski notched 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists as the Big Red controlled the game throughout. Cornell outrebounded the bigger Bulldogs 38-33 and limited the visitors to 35 percent shooting overall and 13 percent from 3-point range (2-of-15). Anthony Gatlin added 10 points in just 14 minutes of action.
Cornell's three seniors, Mark Coury, Aaron Osgood and Adam Wire, were honored in a pregame ceremony. Coury and Wire were in the starting lineup, while Osgood made a cameo appearance to get his name in the box score in the final minute. He had missed the previous nine contests due to a knee injury. Coury ended the night with eight points, five rebounds and three assists, while Wire notched seven points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Big Red played without second leading scorer Errick Peck, who missed the game due to a death in the family.
Greg Mangano scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, but Yale's attack outside of the 6-10 conference player of the year candidate struggled. Austin Morgan scored 11 points, while top freshman Jeremiah Kreisberg had nine points and eight rebounds.
The Big Red jumped out to an 11-3 lead, trailed twice in the first half for a total of 48 seconds and led from wire-to-wire after the break. The lead grew to as many as 13 points in the final 20 minutes before Yale cut it to five with just over eight minutes left. Unlike the first meeting, where Cornell surrendered a 10-point lead in the final two minutes, the Big Red made key plays down the stretch, including hitting all four free throws, two by Coury and two by Wroblewski, to seal the win.
By Tim Weisberg
A Cornell win over Yale Saturday night promptly ended the Big Red's streak of three consecutive Ivy League titles, ending a woeful season full of fresh faces, heartbreak and no dancing in March.
What the Big Red could dance about was knowing seniors Mark Coury, Adam Wire and Aaron Osgood ended their Cornell careers with a win, and three straight wins en route to a disappointing 10-18 finish.
However, the disappointing season was after four of five starters from last season's Sweet 16 team graduated, coach Steve Donahue left for the Boston College coaching job and 11 of the 18 players on the Big Red roster were underclassmen.
Further, Cornell had lost 10 of its 18 games by five points or less and six by three points or less. Wipe away 10 losses, and the Big Red would have finished the season 20-8, fulfilling the third place finish media outlets predicted before the season.
Rubbing more salt on the wound of heartbreak, Big Red opponents hit go-ahead baskets in the final minutes of six games (St. Bonaventure, Lehigh, Binghamton, New Hampshire, Yale and Princeton). The game against Yale Feb. 4 in New Haven, Conn. was the biggest heartbreak for the Big Red as the Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 1:58 to stun the Big Red 71-70.
But the Big Red (10-18, 6-8 Ivy League) received a bittersweet taste of redemption in a 68-55 victory over the Bulldogs (15-13, 8-6) Saturday night. The Big Red held the Bulldogs to 35 percent shooting from the floor, including 13 percent (2 for 15) from three-point range.
The most impressive and convincing stat of the night was Cornell's second unit. The Big Red outscored the Bulldogs 42 to 8 in bench points, giving fans a compelling reason to believe this revamped squad has the utmost potential to once again be Ivy League contenders.
So while the NCAA Selection Committee will not be penciling in Cornell in the field of 68 this season, the Big Red can hold their heads up high, knowing they closed out the season with three straight wins, and gave Wire, Coury and Osgood something memorable for their senior campaign as they finished their collegiate careers.
And while the last three pieces of Cornell's three Ivy League championships trickle away like beads of sweat down an athlete, the Ivy League can not only lock a team's golden ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but witness history in the making.
328 miles away in Cambridge, Mass., Harvard's 79-67 win over Princeton ensured the Crimson at least a share of the Ivy League title for the first time ever, and kept the Crimson alive to secure the Ivy League's automatic berth to the field of 68.
The Crimson (23-5, 12-2) have not played in the NCAA Tournament since 1946, before the conference namesake came into existence. Led by former Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson can win the Ivy League title outright if Princeton loses to Penn on March 8.
However, if the Tigers (23-6, 11-2 Ivy League) prevail, the Tigers would share the title with the Crimson and play in a one-game playoff for the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's almost a gift to have another game on Tuesday," Princeton coach Sydney Johnson said. "It's just a blessing to have another game to play."
Or two games? It took the Princeton an extra five-minute session the last time the Tigers played the Quakers on Feb. 8, as the Tigers edged out a 62-59 overtime victory in Princeton, N.J.
Should Princeton beat Penn on Tuesday, the Ivy League would consider Harvard and Princeton co-champions, with the winner of a one-game playoff at a neutral site Friday or Saturday earning the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
What is history in the making is whether or not the Tigers or Crimson would be able to receive an at-large berth into the tournament, which has never happened before. But considering the Tigers and the Crimson had soft non-conference schedules, it seems highly unlikely two Ivy League teams would make the tournament.
So although the Big Red's Ivy League supremacy may have come to an abrupt halt Saturday night, the Ivy League continues to make history. The Big Red made history by becoming the first Ivy League team since 1979 to make it to the Sweet 16, but also made history by winning its first NCAA Tournament game in the program's history.
The Crimson have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in over 60 years. That's pretty historical. You can almost guarantee come Tuesday night, the people of Cambridge will suddenly become Quaker fans.
ITHACA, N.Y. – There would be no miracle comeback for the Yale men's basketball team in the season finale against Cornell.
The Big Red built a 13-point lead early in the second half and held off a couple of Yale rallies en route to a 68-55 victory before a crowd of 2,008 at Newman Arena.
The Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit to defeat Cornell 71-70 in the first meeting back in February.
Yale shot just 35 percent from the field, 13.3 percent from three-point range and 55 percent from the foul line.
"Take nothing away from Cornell. They played well, but we didn't have our legs after a double overtime win last night and a long bus ride," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We just did not have a lot to offer on the offensive end."
Greg Mangano paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, completing a breakout season for the junior. He averaged 16.3 points and 10.0 points, becoming the first Yale player to average a double-double for the season since Chris Dudley (17.6 ppg., 13.3 rpg.) in 1986-87 and the first Ivy player since Harvard's Kyle Snowden (15.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg.) in 1995-96. In addition, Mangano had a school record 85 blocks, which is the third most in Ivy history.
Mangano was even better in Ivy games where he averaged 18.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, which both led the league. His 51 blocks in league games is a new Ivy record as well.
"I think Greg should be the Ivy League Player of the Year and the defensive player of the year," Jones said.
The Bulldogs finished with a 15-13 overall record and an 8-6 Ivy mark. They will finish third. The only question is whether they share it with Penn. The Quakers (7-6) close out their season by hosting Princeton on Tuesday night at The Palestra.
"We were picked fifth in the preseason. Every year we are picked lower than we should be," Jones said. "Hopefully next year we'll be picked second."
"We'll miss their leadership," Jones said.
Drew Ferry paced Cornell with 15 points off the bench. The Big Red (10-18, 6-8 Ivy) won six of its last nine games to end the season.
NOTES: Mangano narrowly missed out on the Ivy League's overall scoring title. He entered the night tied with Columbia's Noruwa Agho. Agho, though, scored 31 points in the Lions' 91-74 victory over Brown to finish at 16.8 ppg… The Bulldogs have now finished fourth or better in Ivy play in each of the last 11 years… The 15 overall wins are the most for the Bulldogs since the 2005-06 season… Cornell's bench scored 42 points in the game… Yale is tentatively scheduled to open the 2011-12 season on Nov. 12 against Central Connecticut in the Connecticut 6 Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena.