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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2010

Cornell reaches Sweet 16


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Louis Dale

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Cornell players jumped up and down near midcourt, exchanging chest-bumps and high-fives, then ran toward their fans.

And stood around.

Forgive those Ivy League guys for not knowing how to celebrate. After all, they've never experienced anything like this before.

The Big Red made a big statement on college basketball's biggest stage, and now they might have something in store for Big Blue.

Louis Dale scored 26 points, Ryan Wittman added 24 and No. 12 seed Cornell upset fourth-seeded Wisconsin, 87-69, yesterday, becoming the first Ivy League school in more than 30 years to advance to the round of 16.

"You can't sleep on us," Dale said.

The Big Red (29-4) will play top-seeded Kentucky in the East Regional semifinal Thursday in Syracuse, N.Y., about an hour from Cornell's campus.

"Maybe all the Syracuse fans bought tickets and can help us out," said Cornell coach Steve Donahue, whose team played close games on the road this season against fellow No. 1 seeds Kansas and Syracuse.

Yesterday, it wasn't close at all as the Big Red controlled things from the opening tip, picking apart Wisconsin's vaunted defense the same way they did Temple in the opening round.

Cornell had a 12-point lead early, a 20-point lead late and very few moments of concern in between.

"We're definitely going to enjoy this one," center Jeff Foote said. "But we're not done yet."

Cornell became the lowest seed to advance to the round of 16 in this year's tournament and the first Ivy League team to get that far since Penn 31 years ago.

Wisconsin (24-9), meanwhile, failed to get past the opening weekend for the fourth time in five years.

"The momentum and confidence they played with, we kind of ran into a buzz saw," said Badgers forward Keaton Nankivil.

Jon Leuer led the Badgers with 23 points, including the team's first 12. Jason Bohannon added 18, Ryan Evans chipped in 11 and Trevon Hughes finished with 10.

But Wisconsin's problem was defense.

Cornell shot 61 percent from the field, 53 percent from 3-point range and dominated every aspect of the matchup. Anyone believe the Big Red were seeded correctly now?

"We want to take this ride as long as we can because after this it's just nothing but babies and memories," Dale said.

Foote had 12 points and seven rebounds. Chris Wroblewski added 12 points, and Jon Jaques finished with nine before fouling out.

"We have a bunch of guys with something to prove," Dale said.

Not anymore.

A win against the Wildcats, though, might give Cornell reason to really celebrate.

"We've played teams like Kentucky before," Foote said. "We're very experienced and very confident in ourselves."

NO. 2 WEST VIRGINIA 68, NO. 10 MISSOURI 59

BUFFALO, N.Y. Da'Sean Butler, who has six game-winning baskets this season, played his best during the first 20 minutes when he scored 19 of his 28 points in leading the Big East Conference champion Mountaineers.

"He's the 'Magic Man,' " point guard Darryl Bryant said of his teammate. "He shows up when we need him."

Butler accounted for nearly two-thirds of West Virginia's 30 points in the first half, and played a key role in breaking down Missouri's high-pressure defense, which was dubbed "The Fastest 40 Minutes of Basketball."

"We didn't really panic," Butler said. "We just stepped up to the challenge and played like men and broke the press."

West Virginia (29-6) advanced to face No. 11 seed Washington in the East Regional semifinals on Thursday. It marks the fifth time the Mountaineers reached the final 16, and first since 2008.

Michael Dixon had 15 points for Missouri (23-11), which was undone by an overall poor shooting performance. The Tigers went 20 of 61 from the field and were just as bad from the free-throw line, where they went 12 of 20.

"It's tough to win when you have guys shooting 2-for-9, 3-for-8," said Tigers forward Keith Ramsey, who went 2-for-9 for eight points. "It's tough and it's frustrating."