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Cornell Builds Big Lead, Hangs On For 78-73 Win at Fordham

  • / Updated:
  • Kyle Evans 

The Cornell men’s basketball team raced out to a big lead and made the plays it needed down the stretch to capture a 78-73 victory over Fordham on Saturday afternoon at Rose Hill Gymnasium. The Big Red improved to 3-0 on the young season, while the Rams slipped to 1-1.

On the road against an Atlantic 10 foe that won 25 games a year ago, the Big Red led by as many as 27 (54-27), saw the lead whittled to a single possession with 26 seconds left, only to escape after hitting 3-of-4 free throws in the final seconds.  

Cornell had four double figure scorers, shot 54 percent from the floor and held advantages in rebounds (36-28) and bench points (35-20) to claim its third straight victory to open the year. Nazir Williams posted a team-high 15 points with Chris Manon adding 14 along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Cooper Noard netted 13 points and seven rebounds and AK Okereke had 11 with four rebounds. 

Japhet Medor scored a game-high 17 points, with Josh Rivera and Will Richardson adding 12 apiece. The Rams shot 45 percent overall, but turned the ball over 17 times and made just 14-of-25 free throws. 

Fordham jumped out to an 11-4 lead just over four minutes in, but it was fool’s gold for the home team. The Big Red took over from there to grab a 45-24 advantage at the break.

Okereke scored 11 in the first half on 5-of-5 shooting, while Manon had eight to go along with three of the Big Red’s eight first half steals. The Cornell defense held the Rams to 41 percent shooting overall and forced 15 turnovers before the break, outrebounding the home team 19-10 led by Hansen’s six.

The Big Red didn’t rely on the 3-pointer, connecting on just 3-of-10 from beyond the arc, shooting 58 percent overall and making 71 percent from inside it (15-of-21) over the first 15 minutes. It had an 11-0 edge in second chance points, 19-4 lead off turnovers and 28-12 in the paint. 

The second half was a lot more hairy as Fordham threw itself around trying to get back in the game, which it did. Cornell was called for 13 fouls in the first 12:20 of the second half, allowing the Rams to shoot 16 free throws and see its 27-point lead early in the second half cut to 64-52.

The home team continued to whittle the lead away, finally getting back to single digits with 6:42 remaining, and within a single possession at the final media timeout. A Nazir Williams offensive rebound and putback on one end, followed by an Isaiah Gray steal and layup immediately following pushed the Big Red lead back to seven (73-66). The Rams snuck back to within three with a minute remaining, but Hansen hit a free throw and Noard connected on two more to seal the win.

UP NEXT

• The Big Red will visit George Mason on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.
• The contest will be broadcast on ESPN+.
• This will be the second all-time meeting between the teams after Cornell topped the Patriot 68-60 on Nov. 14, 2014 at the Patriot Center.
• Shonn Miller had 21 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots to lead the Big Red.