The Cornell men’s basketball team placed four players in double figures and shot 76 percent inside the arc to advance to the championship game of the Jacksonville Classic Bay Bracket with an 88-70 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday afternoon at Flagler Gymnasium. The Big Red improved to 4-1 with the victory, while the Titans dropped to 1-3.
The Big Red will meet Utah Valley, a 67-65 victor over Southern Miss, in the championship game of the Bay Bracket on Monday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.
Cornell made 25-of-33 shots from inside the arc, forced 21 turnovers, assisted on 20 baskets and outrebounded the Titans (33-25) in getting back on the winning track. Cooper Noard scored a career-high 18 points and Chris Manon added 17 points with six rebounds and three steals. Guy Ragland Jr. netted 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Sean Hansen scored 10 with four assists to round out the double figure scorers. Keller Boothby had eight points and three of the Big Red’s 10 steals and Nazir Williams posted four points, six rebounds and three assists in the victory.
Max Jones led the way with a game-high 23 points for the Titans, while Dominic Brewton had 15 with nine rebounds. Fullerton turned it over 21 times, but shot 50 percent from the field overall in the loss.
Cornell missed its first six 3-pointers of the night and was just 8-for-31 overall, but led nearly wire-to-wire in the contest, going up by as many as 23. The Big Red went into the locker room with a 43-31 advantage and never was threatened in the second half.
After the two teams spent the first eight minutes largely feeling each other out, a Cooper Noard 3-pointer gave the Big Red a 12-9 lead and Cal State Fullerton never got square. That shot triggered a 9-0 Cornell run that doubled up the Titans at 18-9.
Cornell led by multiple possessions the rest of the way, with Cal State Fullerton only momentarily getting within four at 24-20. DJ Nix hit a 3-pointer to begin an 8-0 run, with Boothby ending it on the other end of a steal when he connected on a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer. Noard ended the half the same way, draining a trey just before the horn to make it a double-digit game at the break.
The Big Red forced a turnover on its first defensive possession of the second half, then got a thunderous Sean Hansen dunk on the other end to punctuate the effort. Fullerton got back within 11, but it was 14 or more for the final 13:45 as the Big Red cruised to the victory in the first-ever meeting between the programs.