Box Score (PDF)
ITHACA, N.Y. - The Penn men's basketball team got off to a scorching start Friday night at Cornell's Newman Arena, and for much of the first half you got the sense that maybe, just maybe, the Quakers would be able to stay with the Big Red.
However, Penn entered this game severely undermanned; a season rife with injuries only got worse this week as Tyler Bernardini and Conor Turley were shut down for the weekend (and possibly for the season). Add in the fact that Cornell, at 9-3 in the Ivy League, was not only smelling a second straight Ivy League title but also a possible NCAA bid (depending on what happened in New York City between Columbia and Princeton).
Sure enough, reality set in. Cornell turned a 26-23 deficit into a 34-28 lead by halftime, and after Penn got within five points early in the second (41-36) the Big Red simply ran away with it. The last few minutes of this contest turned into a love-in, as word came that Columbia had done its part by beating Princeton, and when Cornell's 83-59 rout was complete all that was left was the requisite student section charging the floor, the playing of Queen's "WeAre The Champions," and the cutting of the nets.
So Cornell (20-9, 10-3 Ivy) becomes the first team to punch a ticket into the NCAA Tournament again this year. Penn, meanwhile, falls to 9-17 overall and 5-7 in the Ivies heading into Saturday night's game at Columbia (7 p.m.).
Given the severity of Penn's lineup Friday -- only 10 players dressed for the Quakers -- head coach Glen Miller was seen making gestures that had to feel foreign to him. They were gestures telling his players to slow down.
Penn used a quick start to shut down a near-capacity crowd at Newman Arena, scoring seven of the first nine points as Jack Eggleston sandwicheda three and a two between a Brennan Votel layin. You figured Cornell would climb back into it, and the Big Red did, quickly -- it was 12-12 before the contest was six minutes old. However, Votel hit another shot, and then Rob Belcore and Zack Rosen hit treys on consecutive possessions to push Penn ahead, 20-12.
To that point, Penn was 8 of 12 from the field, and 4 of 5 on three-pointers. It would not last.
Cornell needed nearly four minutes to get back level, keeping Penn off the board while getting eight straight points. Justin Reilly and Cornell's Louis Dale then traded baskets, and a minute later Kevin Egeebanked homea jumper to put the Quakers up, 24-22. Rosen shook free for a layup after that, making it 26-23, but Ryan Wittman tied the game with a trey; Jeff Foote gave Cornell its first lead on a layup; and Chris Wroblewski drilled another trey to put the Big Red up 31-26. It was 34-28 at the break.
Wittman needed all of 11 seconds to drain another three at the start of the second half, and the tone was set. The Big Red shot 76 percent from the field in the second half (19 of 25), including five treys on seven attempts.
Penn briefly stirred -- Harrison Gaines hit layups around a Belcore bucket to turn an 11-point lead to five -- but when Cornell scored the next eight points you could sense this one getting away. Another seven-point run turned an eight-point game to 15 (56-41), and then a Penn bucket was answered by seven more points and suddenly this thing was 63-43.
By this time the word was out that Columbia had polished off Princeton, and the rest of the evening was window dressing for a fawning Cornell crowd.
Belcore led Penn in scoring, knocking down a career-high 15 points, while Votel and Rosen had 10 apiece. Gaines finished with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists.
For Cornell, Wittman -- a serious candidate for Ivy League Player of the Year -- had 25 points and knocked down six three-pointers. Dale scored 13, Wroblewski had 12, and Alex Tyler scored 11. Foote finished with eight points, nine boards, and five assists without a turnover.
Download: Penn26 (@Cornell).pdf