Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton)
Cornell held a dominant 56-22 edge on the backboards and put away a pesky Clarkson squad 82-37 on Monday evening at Newman Arena. The Big Red ended a historic non-conference season with a 14-3 mark, setting records for most non-league wins (14) and non-conference winning percentage (.824) heading into the league opener on Saturday against Columbia. Division III Clarkson fell to 6-4 with the loss.
Senior Ryan Wittman had 15 points and six rebounds, while classmate Jeff Foote chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds and Louis Dale had 10 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds to pace the Big Red. Cornell nearly had as many offensive rebounds (21) as Clarkson had total boards (22) and shot 49 percent overall while limiting the Golden Knights to 25 percent shooting.
All 19 players that suited up saw action, including freshman walk-on Jon Gray, who suited up for his first career action. Freshmen Peter McMillan and Miles Asafo-Adjei scored their first collegiate points, while Josh Figini had a career-best five points, including a fastbreak dunk for his first basket as a Big Red player. But the freshman play of the night came on a vicious follow-up dunk by Errick Peck, who ended the night with four points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.
There was a lot to like despite the fact that the Big Red missed a significant number of open 3-pointers, making 9-of-27 overall. The starting backcourt of Dale and Chris Wroblewski combined for 10 assists without a turnover. Besides the big three, who scored a total of 39 points, six other players scored five points each. Cornell shared the ball well, assisting on 21 of 34 baskets and turning it over just 13 times, including just five after halftime when the home team extended an 18-point lead to as many as 46 points.
Clarkson got eight points from both Elson Pickering, who was limited to 2-of-13 shooting, and Felix Llanos. Llanos added three assists and two rebounds, while Keith Murray had four rebounds and three steals. The Golden Knights dropped their second straight game, turning the ball over 15 times and making just 23 percent of its shots in the first 20 minutes.
Though the Big Red started slowly on offense, its defense still helped the team pull away early, leading 18-7 by the 10-minute mark of the first half. An energetic Jon Jaques, who crashed the board for four early offensive boards, set the tone. When Clarkson's Brandon Linton hit a 3-pointer off a broken play to make it 15-7, Jaques answered with a trey on the other end and the home team never saw the lead dip into single figures again. Peck's soaring dunk following a Geoff Reeves 3-pointer with 1:07 left in the half put the crowd of more than 2,400 on its feet and pushed the edge to 21 points (35-14), its biggest advantage in the half. Only a Pickering 3-pointer at the buzzer put a damper on a half where Cornell outrebounded the smaller Golden Knights 30-13.
The second half was more of the same, with Foote getting the ball repeatedly by rolling to the basket, getting a dunk to open the half (part of a 7-of-9 shooting day). A 30-6 Big Red run turned the game into a laugher by the time Asafo-Adjei found a streaking Figini in transition for a dunk with 7:39 left to make it 67-26. The reserves for both teams played out the clock as Cornell celebrated its 12th win in 13 games.
The Big Red will open defense of its last two Ivy League titles when it faces Columbia on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m. at Newman Arena.