The Cornell women’s basketball team came into its most recent set of games on a hot streak. The squad beat Ivy League opponents Brown, Yale and Dartmouth and were holding fast to a No. 3 spot in the rankings. The women were set to play the two teams ahead of them in the league last Friday and Saturday.
Penn was at the top of the Ancient Eight with a 6-0 undefeated streak against Ivy opponents. Princeton was right behind them with only one loss and thus a 5-1 Ivy record. As a result, this weekend was huge for the Red, as it pitted them against its biggest competition and tested how well the team could cope traveling on the road.
In the past three weeks, the Red has only played one game on the road against Columbia, beating them 66-59. However, this weekend’s away games did not prove as successful. Though both Friday and Saturday ended in losses, the standings remain unchanged. Cornell holds on to its No. 3 ranking and will have another chance to face both the Tigers and the Quakers — this time at home — in the coming weeks.
“Being on the road is tough and this past weekend at Princeton and Penn didn’t go as we had hoped, but that’s the good thing about the Ivy league,” said freshman guard and two time Rookie of the Week Caroline Shelquist. “We got a feel for how they play and we get to see them again at home.”
On Friday, the team went to Princeton, New Jersey to face off against the Tigers. The Red’s opponent had a strong presence around the paint, but junior forward Nia Marshall had a great defensive performance against Princeton’s Alex Wheatley and Taylor Williams. She had two steals and a defensive rebound, as well as seven points against the Princeton defense.
Junior forward Nicholle Aston balanced the offensive side out, knocking down 22 points and shooting an outstanding .71 from the floor. Despite her performance, Aston was not satisfied.
“Last weekend was a disappointment because there was a lot left out there on the court,” she said.
The final score against the Tigers was 51-71, with almost half of the team’s points coming from Aston.
On Saturday, the same story played itself out again. Penn out-shot the Red .421 to . 370, though both teams were tied for rebounds at 36. However, it was the Penn back court defense that stymied the Cornell squad. The Quakers controlled possession numbers with 11 steals to Cornell’s three.
“Nia played good defense and Nicholle and Kerri [Moran] were making shots,” said senior guard Maddie Campbell.
But Marshall could not hold back the entire Penn lineup, and despite another strong shooting night for Aston and Moran, the Quakers beat the visiting Red, 74-63.
Despite the losses, Cornell is looking ahead. With another weekend on the road coming up, the Red has a lot to prove against the aggressive Harvard and Dartmouth offenses.
“We still need to work on the defensive end, but thankfully, we have this week to fix that up at practice,” Aston said.
Campbell agrees, adding that the upcoming weekend is an important one for the Red.
“Really, this upcoming weekend is big for us,” she said. “We need to work on our rebounding and forward defense.”