February 20, 2012

W. BASKETBALL | Red Pulls Out Close Win Over Quakers

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Cornell (10-13, 4-5 Ivy League) came away with mixed results over the weekend, defeating Penn (10-13, 3-6) in a close game, 45-42, before losing to Princeton (19-4, 9-0), 75-39.

Cornell started off on a good foot on Friday night against Penn, with the Red finishing the first half ahead, 24-14. Both sophomore guard Allyson DiMagno and senior forward Maka Anyanwu contributed four points, while junior guard Taylor Flynn sunk a 3-pointer towards the end of the half.

“We had already beaten Penn so we knew they were going to be hungry for that win,” said junior guard Spencer Lane. “We tried to go out with as much energy as possible.”

The Quakers staged more of a fight in the second half, going on a run that would bring them to tie the score at 42-42 with a little over three minutes remaining. From theat moment on it was a battle to the finish, as both teams fought to hold the lead. With 70 seconds remaining, Lane made her second of two free throws to put the Red ahead 43-42. In the remaining minute Penn fouled DiMagno, who sank both free throws — lifting the game to 45-42.

“There were some things that we could improve on,” Flynn said. “The biggest thing we took away from this game was having a good early start and keeping our ground. No matter how much they fight back, we can hold them down and pull through in the very end.”

Cornell’s defense set the tone for the game, playing a tight zone and holding Penn to a 22 percent shooting average. In the final minutes, Flynn and junior Clare Fitzpatrick created a strong defensive tandem, preventing Penn from making crucial baskets towards the end of the game.

“We made plays; we set one another off,” Flynn said. “At the very end, we were making sure to not let them get a shot off. Each player knew exactly what they were doing … everyone was on the same page for every play. Everyone contributed to the game, and every point counted.”

“We didn’t play our best game — it was close at the end, but we got the win and we got it done,” Lane said.

This was the second time that Cornell defeated Penn this season; the Red beat the Quakers earlier in the season, 67-53.

With Friday night’s win secured, the Red moved on to face Princeton, the No. 1 team in the league.  Undefeated in all of their Ivy games, and on a 12-game winning streak, the Tigers were bound to be a challenge for Cornell.

“We go into every game with the same mentality,” Lane said. “They’re obviously a good team, a championship team, and the best team in the league, but that doesn’t change the way we approach the game.”

Cornell’s Anyanwu and DiMagno were the first to score in the game, but the Tigers began a 22 consecutive-point run which secured them a formidable lead, 39-18.

“It was a game for learning opportunities,” Flynn said. “For each four minute increment, we tried to make sure we stopped them on defense, that we outscored them. It didn’t pan out as we hoped, but we had that mentality of going on step at a time.”

Flynn, DiMagno and Fitzpatrick contributed points for the Red; however, the Tigers proved too formidable of an opponent and never let the Red close the gap within 10 points of their lead.

“We didn’t execute offensively, and never really got into a scoring flow,” Lane said. “They controlled the tempo of the game … We have to set the tone no matter how good or bad the other team is. We let them take us out of our offense … We have to be able to execute our offense even if we’re playing the worst team in the league.”

Cornell’s season continues next weekend at home, as the team will face Brown and Yale. With five games left in the season, the Red will have only a few chances remaining to work on the things it has focused on all season.

“We want to make sure we stay consistent throughout the games,” Flynn said. “We have been making steps to this … It’s been one of our biggest themes …If we make sure we put in the entire 40 minutes, I believe we can really upset some teams in this league.”

“We didn’t get the outcome [this weekend] that we wanted, but we got a win, which is something to be proud of,” Lane said. “[Next weekend] we’re hoping to get two home wins and finish above the 500-mark in the Ivy League.”

Original Author: Rebecca Velez

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