ITHACA, N.Y. - Cornell had waited 20-years to cut down the nets as Ivy League champions. The wait is over.
There was jubilation on the court as Cornell head coach Steve Donahue and his players took turns snipping the net and taking away a piece of history.
“I’m like a proud parent. These guys took me for a ride,” Donahue said summing up the team’s season. “I’m proud of the program we’ve built and what these guys have accomplished. Their very talented kids that have bought into every thing we do.”
Adam Gore scored 14 points and Ryan Wittman added 13 for Cornell in its 86-53 win over Harvard to win the Ivy League and earn an NCAA tournament berth.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Jason Hartford, Cornell’s only senior, said of the emotions that overcame the team in the game’s final seconds. “No words can express the feeling to that one sound of the horn. All we could do is run as fast as we could to the middle of the court and jump as high as we could to be able to share it with the people that were there with you the whole way.”
As a bonus, the Big Red was able to do it in front of a sold-out home crowd.
“I’ve never felt anything like this before,” said Jeff Foote, Cornell’s 7-foot center. “We wanted to get up big so everyone could play. It was great to see the whole school come out and pack the gym tonight.”
Louis Dale scored 12 points for Cornell (20-5, 12-0). Andre Wilkins added 11 and, Foote had 10 as the Big Red put five players in double figures.
The Big Red last won an Ivy League title in 1988 and no team other than Penn or Princeton has won the league since then.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“We had an outstanding program back in the 50’s and 60’s, and of course the late 80’s” Donahue said. “I feel proud of all the guys that have come through the program, especially the guys that gave four years to me and couldn’t be here to enjoy this.”
Dale fed Foote for a lay-up with one of his eight assists seven minutes into the first half that gave Cornell a 13-11 lead, and the Big Red never looked back.
The Big Red mounted a 20-5 run in the first half thanks to a tenacious man-to-man defense that kept Harvard (8-20, 3-9) off balance as the Crimson missed 13-of-14 shots after Cornell took the lead.
Harvard, which shot 15-for-62 overall, didn’t hit a field goal in the last 4½ minutes of the half and nearly the first six minutes of the second half.
Two long 3-pointers by Wittman and another by Gore as the first half came to a close helped the Big Red mount a 45-20 lead at the half.
Harvard’s Brad Unger was the only Crimson in double figures with 10 points. Dan McGreay and Evan Harris each had nine. Jeremy Lin, Harvard’s leading scorer was held to six points.
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