After suffering back-to-back, deflating overtime losses to Ivy favorites Harvard and Princeton, the Quakers looked primed to turn their 5-15 Cornell opponent into a virtual punching bag.
But instead, Penn found itself in overtime again, and it was the Big Red who dealt a knockout blow, outscoring the Quakers, 19-8, in the extra session to take the 82-71 victory.
“I won’t even call tonight a heartbreaker,” coach Jerome Allen said afterward. “We just didn’t respect the game.”
Heartbreaker or not, Penn’s overtime loss this time around bore quite a resemblance to the Princeton nail-biter, given the critical mistakes Penn (9-12, 3-4 Ivy) made down the stretch.
With the game tied 63-apiece and Cornell (6-16, 2-6) in possession, star guard Chris Wroblewski launched an outside shot with the clock winding down. The shot bounced out, but big man Mark Coury put it back in — beating the buzzer and sending Newman Arena into a frenzy.
But what would a 2010-11 Penn game be without a sudden turn of events at the buzzer?
The referees waved off the basket, calling an offensive foul on Coury for the initial rebound.
That was Cornell’s seventh team foul, which meant Penn senior Conor Turley would have the chance to take the lead on a 1-and-1 free-throw attempt with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
The then-70.2 percent free-throw shooter missed.
Cornell grabbed the rebound and after a desperation heave went begging, the game was sent into the extra period.
It was all Big Red in overtime, thanks to 14 points combined from Wroblewski and Groebe. “Miami Max” hit back-to-back threes to open the period, and Cornell didn’t look back, building up its lead to 10 points with 1:30 remaining and then icing the game at the line from thereon out.
For Penn, the lack of focus evident in the loss is a head-scratcher.
Coming off two gut-wrenching defeats, the Quakers had the opportunity to build their morale back up against a struggling Big Red squad.
But wins aren’t just handed out in the Ivy League, and Penn’s lackluster effort at the start translated into a 29-13 Big Red lead with 7:08 to go in the first half.
The Quakers were under attack from all fronts in the first stanza — nine different Cornell players scored in the opening period, compared to Penn’s four.
“We jumped on them early and that was exactly what our plan was,” said Wroblewski, who scored a game-high 21 points. “We wanted to get on them early, keep punching away … we knew we would wear them down.”
Wroblewski did credit the Quakers for fighting back — Penn actually held a nine-point lead with 8:41 remaining in regulation — but for Allen, the comeback trend is frustrating.
“We always want to wait until we get down to try and exert extra energy and think we can get back the games and win. Obviously, you see tonight that we had to exert energy, and it didn’t fall our way.”
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