ITHACA, N.Y. - A year ago, Penn and Cornell played a high-intensity game at The Palestra. In that game, the Quakers -- who were on their way to their third-straight Ivy League title -- were able to pull away from a young Big Red squad for the win.
Saturday night, in front of a sellout crowd at Cornell’s Newman Gym, the Quakers and the Big Red again put on an entertaining show. In fact, with just over four minutes left it was a two-point game.
The difference? This year’s Cornell squad is a year older, and is the team considered loaded with talent and expected by many to emerge with the Ivy championship. Penn, meanwhile, boasts a young, inexperienced lineup and is still trying to find its way through these rigorous Ivy weekends.
In other words, this year it was the Big Red’s chance to turn the tables and they did, reeling off 10 points in a row and pulling away for an 87-74 victory.
With the victory, Cornell remains the only unbeaten team in the Ivy League at 6-0; the Big Red are 14-5 overall. Meanwhile, Penn fell to 2-2 in the Ivy League (7-14 overall) as it took its second loss in as many nights.
The star of the game had to be Cornell’s Ryan Wittman. Last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year got off to a slow start Saturday night, but had nine points by halftime and then played a central role in helping the Big Red pull away early in the second. He hit three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, turning a two-point game into an 11-point Cornell advantage.
Then, when Penn made a charge late in the contest and cut the Cornell lead to 71-69, Wittman again had the answer. He brought the ball down, and with a hand in his face still spotted up and drained another tough trey that gave the Big Red some breathing room.
Wittman’s trey was followed by an offensive foul call on Penn's Andreas Schreiber, and on the Big Red’s next possession a missed shot by Louis Dale was cleaned up by Jeff Foote, whose putback was rejected by Schreiber after it hit the backboard for goaltending. That made the score 76-69, and took the wind out of Penn’s sails.
For Penn, Schreiber had a monster game, scoring 14 points in the first half and finishing the night with a career-high 23 to go with nine rebounds. Harrison Gaines also had an outstanding night, scoring 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and dishing off seven assists without a turnover. Brian Grandieri hit double digits for the second night in a row, with 12 points.
For Cornell, Dale was Wittman’s chief accomplice in a tantalizing point-guard matchup with Gaines; he finished with 24 points (primarily by going 13-of-14 from the foul line) and had nine rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes. Adam Gore, who was the 2005-06 Ivy League Rookie of the Year but missed all of last season with a knee injury, finished the night with 13 points.
Penn is back in action Tuesday night at The Palestra, hosting Princeton at 7 p.m. That game will be televised live on CN8, and is the first of three home games the Quakers will play in the next seven days.