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Cornell back on track after 87-81 win at Penn

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  • Kyle Evans 

After a first half where nothing went right, the Cornell men’s basketball team could seemingly do nothing wrong after the break. The Big Red weathered a barrage of Penn 3-pointers and a decade’s worth of Palestra sadness with an 87-81 victory over the Quakers on Friday evening at The Palestra. The win improved Cornell to0 21-5 (10-2 Ivy) and kept the Big Red in a first-place tie in the Ivy standings. 

The rally from a 14-point second half deficit also ensured yet another game of the year candidate for Saturday evening when the Big Red visits Princeton in a battle for the top spot in the Ancient Eight.

Cornell scored 53 points in the second half on 53 percent shooting, didn’t turn the ball over in the final 20 minutes and closed strong to snap a nine-game skid against Penn at the famed Palestra, 10 games if you include its Ivy Tournament semifinal loss to Harvard in 2017. It was Brian Earl‘s first win in Philadelphia as head coach after a long history as a player for the Tigers in the storied Penn-Princeton series.

AK Okereke scored a career-high 18 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:12 to play, to pace four double-figure scorers for the visitors. Cooper Noard notched 13 points, Chris Manon tallied 11 points with five rebounds and three steals and Nazir Williams had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. Sean Hansen posted nine points and seven rebounds, Guy Ragland Jr. scored nine with five boards and Jake Fiegen added seven points and a team-best eight boards. Cornell shot 47 percent from the floor and made 12 3-pointers while outrebounding the home team 36-33. The Big Red had a 36-22 edge in points in the paint and a 21-14 advantage in second chance points.

Clark Slajchert scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Quakers, while Cam Thrower and Sam Brown each tallied 15. Penn shot 50 percent from the floor and connected on 15-of-34 3-pointers. Nick Spinoso had seven points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, narrowly missing a triple-double.

NEXT UP

• The Big Red eyes a season sweep of Princeton when the two teams meet on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at Jadwin Gymnasium.
• The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
• A win over the Tigers would complete Cornell’s first season sweep in the series since the 2019-20 campaign.
• That was also the last time Cornell won at Jadwin, going 0-3 (0-1 vs. Yale) since.