On the surface, the target numbers were met and exceeded.
Harvard committed just nine turnovers, grabbed 70 percent of the boards on its defensive glass, and held Cornell’s potent trio of Eric Taylor, Lenny Collins, and Cody Toppert to just 23 points combined.
But the true sources of peril in the Crimson’s 67-63 loss to the Big Red Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion came from players who were hardly labeled as targets and one in particular who wasn’t even on the radar screen.
At the beginning of the weekend, Cornell freshman Jason Canady was just another guard in an already crowded Big Red backcourt. He had scored just 37 points on the season, and in eight Ivy League games he had made six appearances for a total of 22 minutes and hadn’t recorded a single bucket.
At Leede Arena Friday night, Canady doubled his Ivy minutes and torched Dartmouth for 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and four assists.
What followed the next morning in Cambridge was somewhat of a blind, chaotic scramble.
“We had just heard about him last night,” captain Jason Norman said. “We didn’t know he was that aggressive going to the basket [and] getting pull-ups in the lane. He’s a good player.”
“We knew absolutely nothing,” senior guard Kevin Rogus added. “He wasn’t on the scouting report all week. We put him on right before the game and said that we didn’t know much about him. Obviously, he’s a good talent.”
After Cornell took an 11-5 lead with 14:14 remaining in the first half, the Crimson outscored the Big Red 21-7 over the next 11 minutes, during which span Canady had all seven of his team’s points.
Canady added two jumpers, two free throws and a layup over the final 11:23 of the game to record 15 points and boost his weekend total to 35—two short of his first 19 games combined.
“We were trying to learn about him during the course of the game,” Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. “I’m actually surprised he hasn’t played much more, because he looked good tonight, and he had a real good game last night.”
While Canady caught Harvard off guard, Cornell junior forward Ryan Rourke stole the show.
Rourke scored seven of the Big Red’s first nine points of the contest, but fell dormant over the final 15:08 of the opening half.
The transfer from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College added just one layup and a jumper over the first 10 minutes of the second half, before completely taking over the contest.
With 9:53 remaining and the score knotted at 40, Rourke scored 16 of Cornell’s final 27 points and went 5-of-5 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line during that stretch. He also hit the biggest shot of the game—a jumper with 52 seconds left that gave the Big Red a two-possession lead for good.
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