Despite trailing at halftime in each of its first two games, Cornell was able to pull out closely contested victories against New Hampshire and Loyola to open the season.
Head coach Dayna Smith said she has relied on her seniors this year, comprising the entire starting lineup.
“Our seniors are going to lead this team all year,” Smith said. “They have earned it, and have been through all types of games, and they are great role models for our younger players, so I hope we can ride our seniors all season long.”
Against New Hampshire (0-1), the Cornell trailed by double-digits for nearly the entire first half; however, the Red (2-0) was able to go on a 6-0 run in the final two minutes of the second quarter to cut the deficit to three at the half.
“I think that since most of us are seniors, we understand that we are able to bounce back from a 10-point deficit, and we showed that tonight,” said senior guard Megan LeDuc. “Hopefully we don’t get into that type of situation again, but now we are confident that we can dig ourselves out of something like that.”
But in the second half, senior guard Kerri Moran took over the contest, scoring 16 of her 18 points. Senior forward Nicole Aston aided Moran by adding 10 points in the final two periods.
Despite strong efforts from the Wildcats’ Brittni Lai, who played all 40 minutes of the game, and Carlie Pogue, who scored 20 points and collected 13 rebounds, the senior leadership of Cornell propelled the Red to a 61-56 opening night victory.
“We had a talk during our shoot around about how we had been together for four years, and how it had gone by so quickly,” Moran said. “Even though my shots weren’t falling early, I drove to the basket, and ended up being successful.”
Its matchup with Loyola (1-1) a was played in a similar style, with Cornell ending the night as victors, 58-50. While Cornell trailed by 10 points at the end of the first quarter in its opener, the Red got out to an early 11-4 lead after one in the second contest. In spite of this, the Greyhounds took a 21-20 lead into the break.
“We were looking to have a better first quarter than we did against New Hampshire,” LeDuc said. “It was also important to have everybody click after having our first game under our belt.”
To begin the third quarter, Cornell scored four consecutive points, and never trailed for the remainder of the night. Freshman guard, Samantha Widmann, who did not see the floor against New Hampshire, added 14 points on four for six shooting in an efficient 16 minutes. Senior forward Nia Marshall led the team with 19 points and six rebounds.
This year marked the first season that Cornell was able to win its first two games since the 2013-14 campaign.
Cornell will look to continue its winning ways when they take their first road trip of the season to face Colgate (0-2) Nov. 16.
“We need to continue to focus on making our foul shots, and we need to keep being aggressive,” Moran said.
The Red will need to keep the Raiders’ trio of scoring guards Katie Curtis, Haley Greer and Rachel Thompson in check if they expect to begin the year with its third consecutive victory.
Again, Smith will rely on her senior-laden starting five to carry the Red in its first game outside of Newman Arena this season.
“We need to build off of where we are,” Smith said. “We have to clean up the rebounding and our fouls, and start the game off on a good note, and hopefully we can do that moving forward.”