Minutes into tonight's matchup against Maryland, things looked bleak. The Terrapins opened up play with the first 16 points of the game, rallying to a 23-point lead in the first ten minutes of the game.
Alex Len's 7'1" frame and Sean Mosley's sharp shooting put Maryland in strong position early on as the Big Red struggled to penetrate the Terrapin defense and get stops on their own end of the floor. That early rally set the pace for the remainder of the first half, and while Cornell was ultimately able to stop the bleeding, the teams headed into the locker room with the Terps leading 41-26. Those early minutes provided a small, yet downright frustrating glimpse into the troubles Cornell had adapting to the high-powered ACC offense that Maryland brought to the floor.
Working from a zone defense and their classic run and gun offense, the Big Red looked almost unsure of themselves and nervous to take the ball the basket, getting blocked no less than 4 times by the Terrapin big men down low. As an increasingly agitated Bill Courtney paced the sideline, it became clear that some change was needed to re-energize his team.
That change came in the second half, as Cornell charged ahead with its own 16-2 run in the first 10 minutes of the period, cutting lead to a single point in switching to an aggressive man-to-man defense and a re-engineered strategy for attacking down low. Eitan Chemerinski turned around the game with key defensive positioning in the paint, and guards Chris Wroblewski and Devin Cherry turned on the heat to pull together a combined 29 points for the night on offense.
Key turnovers and missed baskets on the Maryland side "got us in a rut, and we couldn't figure out how to get out of the rut," Terps Coach Mark Turgeon noted. "We quit guarding, we quit chasing loose balls." From then on, the game swung back and forth, with Cornell constantly knocking on Maryland's door but just falling short of wrangling the lead back. Despite trading baskets, Cornell could never fully capitalize and fell just far enough behind in the final minutes of the game that it couldn't catch up, despite the early rally. In the end, the Maryland Terrapins clung on to take the victory, 70-62.
With the win, the Terps extended their winning streak to 7 in front of a crowd of 11,395. The typically running-and-gunning Red had to switch things up on offense tonight, finding their usually standard long-range jumpers to be on the ineffective side. Cornell shot just 7 out of 30 from beyond the arc and senior Drew Ferry found the basket from downtown on just 1 out of 9 tries. The Big Red, however, were able to rally and keep things close through more effective passing and chemistry inside the paint and from short-range in the second half, fueling their double digit run.
On the highlights side, senior Chris Wroblewski became the 24th player in Cornell history to reach the 1,000 career point mark with a layup in the final minute of the game. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough, as the Big Red drops to 4-9 on the season and 0-8 on the road. It's the 7th heartbreaker loss this season in which Cornell has lost by 10 points or less.
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