After finally earning its first Ivy League win, the women’s basketball team hopes to put up another strong performance this weekend as it hosts both Harvard and Dartmouth at Newman Arena.
Harvard (14-7, 5-2 Ivy) and Dartmouth (9-12, 4-3 Ivy) were the top picks of the league this year, and both teams managed to defeat Cornell (6-15, 1-7 Ivy) on their own home courts.
However, the Red hopes that this weekend will end differently, due to its home-court advantage and an improved performance in last weekend’s games.
The Red’s victory last weekend against Penn was a much-needed one. After a long string of Ivy League losses, earning a win perhaps provided the Red with a sense of newfound confidence.
“It was good to get the win,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “I think it relieved some of the pressure and we were able to play more relaxed.”
Cornell’s hope is that it will be able to retain such composure in the face of two more tough opponents.
Harvard will be the first, arriving in Ithaca tomorrow night to challenge Cornell. The Crimson is currently riding a three-game winning streak, and is second only to Princeton in the Ivy League. Harvard is led primarily by junior forward Emma Markley, who averages 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. In addition to Markley’s talents, the Crimson also boasts a wealth of skilled guards, including sophomore Brogan Berry and freshman Victoria Lippert, both of whom average over 12 points per game.
When Cornell and Harvard met earlier this season, the Red was unable to match the Crimson’s execution, ultimately resulting in a 69-53 loss. However, this time, Cornell is looking to turn the tables on its opponents.
“The good thing about the Ivy League is that you get a second shot at every team,” said senior captain Virginia McMunigal. “We’re just focusing on improving our performance in any way we can.”
The same mentality will be employed in the Dartmouth game on Saturday night. The last time the Red and the Green faced off, Cornell was nearly victorious, losing by a mere two points in the final minutes.
The Green, though picked to finish first in the Ivy League, is now situated at fifth, with its most recent loss coming last weekend against Yale. Junior forward Brittney Smith leads the Green with an average of 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, effectively dominating the floor both offensively and defensively.
Smith acknowledged that both Dartmouth and Harvard will be fearsome opponents this weekend, especially on the defensive end.
“Dartmouth and Harvard play team defense … and they’re both extremely good rebounding teams,” she said. “We need to really work and focus on reading their defense.”
However, Smith also emphasized that Cornell is by no means unprepared for these games.
“We learn a lot from every game, and we’ve studied the film quite a bit,” she said. “We’re playing a little better defense … and we’ve been taking care of the ball better.”