Penn defeats Cornell, 73-66
The Quakers hit two back-to-back three pointers late in the second half to seal the win over the Big Red
February 17, 2012, 8:56 pm · Updated February 20, 2012, 11:04 pm·
Basketball is a game of runs, but not in the same sense as baseball.
Friday’s Penn-Cornell match-up at the Palestra showed that to be true in spades, as the Quakers dispatched the Big Red, 73-66.
Penn (15-11, 7-2 Ivy) started off hot against Cornell (10-14, 5-5), producing a first half resplendent with crisp offensive movement, a lot of made threes and a 35-29 lead heading into the locker room.
Sophomore Miles Cartwright was particularly effective both driving the ball and putting it up, finishing the game with 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting. That included 5-for-6 from three-point land.
“If he’s shooting perimeter shots like he did tonight, then that makes him a great player,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said of Cartwright. “He was awesome tonight.”
After halftime was a different story, as Cornell stormed back — largely thanks to star point guard Chris Wroblewski — to take the lead midway through the second stanza.
The Quakers’ offense slowed down, and the Big Red offense sped up. Careless turnovers and uninspired defending allowed the boys from Ithaca to claw their way into the contest.
Indeed, despite the win, Penn coach Jerome Allen pointed to the team’s sloppy defense in the second half as a key area in need of improvement.
“You win basketball games by defending, stopping teams from scoring,” Allen said. “Thank god we made a couple shots down the stretch, because if not for those shots, we probably lose the ball game.”
Allen was quick to dismiss impressive offensive statistics from his star players, insisting instead that Cartwright and senior point guard Zack Rosen — 25 points, six assists — would not have had to hit unbelievably deep threes if the Red and Blue had played good defense in the first place.
With just under nine minutes left, the teams were tied at 49.
And then senior guard Tyler Bernardini made a three to take the lead and complete a 9-0 Quakers run.
That was just the beginning of what would become a captivating back-and-forth offensive shootout.
The last five minutes saw lead change after lead change, with each respective fan group rising and falling with the arc of the basketball — generally shot from three-point range.
Rosen drained two shots that appeared to be at least five feet behind the three-point arc.
When asked just how far his shooting range extends, Rosen joked, “The building.”
A bit of an exaggeration, no doubt, but still not that far from the truth.
“I couldn’t believe he took that shot,” Courtney admitted.
With just five games left in the regular season, the Quakers remain in control of their fate. Standing one game behind Harvard in the loss column, the Red and Blue can guarantee a league title and NCAA bid by winning out.
And if Penn can step up its overall team defense, there’s legitimate reason to believe that could indeed happen.
Or maybe Zack Rosen will just rain down threes like a biblical plague.
Hey, it’s happened before.