Led by junior Claire Perry’s second career double-double, the women’s basketball team defeated Columbia, 64-55, this past Saturday to earn its first season-sweep over the Lions since the 1998-99 season. With the win, the Red (6-11, 3-1 Ivy) is also off to its best start against Ancient Eight foes since the 2001-02 campaign.
Perry’s 23 points and 17 rebounds sparked Cornell to victory over the Lions (4-13, 0-4). The win moves the Red into a tie for third in the Ivy League – no small feat for a team that was picked to finish last in the league by a preseason media poll.
Even more impressive, the Red played without its leading scorer and rebounder, freshman Jeomi Maduka, who was away at a track meet.
“It definitely gives us confidence,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “These conference games are the ones that really matter. We learned a lot from our tough non-conference schedule.”
As was the key in last week’s triumph over Columbia, Cornell dominated the glass, outrebounding the Lions 59-38, including 24-16 on the offensive side. Besides Perry, senior Brittani Rettig and freshman Shannan Scarselletta also made big contributions on the boards, pulling down 11 and nine rebounds, respectively.
“The rebounding was a big key for us,” Smith said. “We didn’t shoot well from the field, so it helped us get a lot more possessions.”
“[Coach Smith] has been harping on us to crash the boards,” Perry said.
Meanwhile, the Cornell victory was also keyed by its 85.2 percent (23-for-27) shooting from the charity stripe.
Cornell’s free-throw shooting was especially important toward the end of the game, as the Red shot 17-for-19 from the line in the second half to clinch the win. Perry and sophomore Lindsay Krasna, who finished with 18 points, combined to go a perfect 12-for-12 from the line in that stretch, and neither missed a free throw for the entire contest.
“We’ve had troubles letting teams get back into the game after getting a lead,” Smith said. “Claire and Lindsay were huge for us with their free throws.”
Perry, now with a free throw shooting percentage above 90 percent, leads the Ivy League in that category.
“We practice our free throws a lot,” Perry said. “I try to zone everybody out when we’re at the line.”
Beginning the game, Cornell jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead just a little over three minutes into the first half. The Red then slowly extended the lead to the 30-20 halftime score, taking advantage of its 31-15 edge on the boards in that period.
In fact, Cornell had more offensive rebounds (16) than Columbia had total rebounds (15) in that period. Perry alone had 12 boards by the half.
The Red lost no momentum in the second half, going on a 15-6 run to open up a 45-26 lead.
However, the Lions never gave up, battling back to cut the lead to single digits with just under two minutes to play. Columbia guard Megan Griffith, the Ivy League’s second-leading scorer and assist-giver, played a large role in keeping her team in the game. She scored 14 of her 22 points in the second half, including three three-pointers over the final five minutes.
In the end, though, Cornell never let the Lions get closer than eight points to cruise to the victory.
“This is a vast improvement from last year,” Perry said. “Now we’ve got to go beat Dartmouth next week.”
Archived article by Scott Riech
Sun Staff Writer