Unlike most of the bouncers in front of bars, collegiate athletes do not care if you are under 21. For instance, let us look to this season’s women’s basketball team. Out of 12 players on its rosters, only three are upperclassmen –– two juniors and one senior. There are even more freshmen than sophomores on the squad, five and four, respectively. Undoubtedly, experience is a factor that plays an important role in all sports.
However, opponents do not care about this. When the ball starts rolling and the clock starts ticking, it does not matter if you have a fake identification or not, because winning is the only thing that counts.
“Coming into the season we are going out there expecting to win every game that we play,” said sophomore forward Clare Fitzpatrick. “We have a young squad, but that is not going through our minds. We are going out there to keep learning from every game and we seek to win the Ivy League Championship, which is our goal.”
Cornell’s (0-2) young squad began its season on Saturday at Newman Arena with a 65-50 loss against Cleveland State University (2-0). The Red then extended its losing streak to two games when it fell, 86-45, to Syracuse (2-0) at the Carrier Dome.
Cornell was harmed in both contests by the large amount of turnovers it allowed. Against Cleveland State, the Red lost possession of the basketball on 28 different occasions. At Syracuse, the Orange’s defense effectively pressured Cornell’s offense, forcing 26 turnovers –– 18 of them steals.
“We are definitely disappointed. I think it gave the other teams momentum and that was one of the main factors in our losses,” Fitzpatrick said. “We did not take a lot of control of the ball and we learned from that game that we need to take care of it. We gave them a lot of shot opportunities. As long as we focus on that, we are going to be a great basketball team.”
At Newman Arena, the Red struck first with a six-point run from two 3-point shots by Fitzpatrick and freshman guard Shelby Lyman. However, Cleveland State recovered the lead with a strong defensive performance that allowed the visitors to score 12 unanswered points. Then, Fitzpatrick and Lyman produced a two-point field goal and a 3-pointer to lead a seven-point run, restoring a 13-12 advantage for Cornell.
Cleveland State eventually took a 22-15 lead and never looked back. Although the Red reduced the deficit to a single point late in the first period, the Vikings outscored the home team, 12-6, in the last three minutes to take a 34-27 advantage going into halftime.
Early in the second period, Cornell fought and maintained the game under reach. However, Cleveland State’s scoring runs were larger than those of Cornell for the most part, as the Vikings’ lead eventually swelled to 24 with four minutes left on the clock. The Red pushed for a last stand with a nine-point scoring run but ultimately fell short of victory.
Although Cornell lost its first game of the season, it is worth mentioning that its young players gave a promising debut performance. Fitzpatrick had 14 points to lead the team in scoring while capturing six rebounds in the process. Lyman had a balanced performance and also reached the double-digit mark in scoring –– 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Freshman forward Allyson DiMagno also contributed to the Red’s cause by producing nine points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes of playtime.
“I am happy about how I started the season. It was a strong first game from my part but basketball is really a team sport and winning is the goal,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was happy to lead the team and I will try to bring every night that level and get a win for the team.”
At Syracuse, the Red gave a competitive performance throughout most of the first period against an experienced Orange squad. Cornell eventually took a one-point lead with less than six minutes of regulation.
However, Syracuse answered back with 21 unanswered points, taking a 20-point advantage. Motivated by the home crowd, the Orange dominated the rest of the contest to win by a margin of 41 points.
“I think we stopped defending effectively,” Lyman said. “They got too many easy buckets inside the paint and we also allowed numerous turnovers.”
Cornell lost the rebound battle, 52-28, and only shot 30.2 percent from the field –– compared to Syracuse’s 43.5 field-goal percentage.
Freshman players also led the Red in scoring at the Carrier Dome, as guards Stephanie Long and Aspen Chandler scored nine and eight, respectively.
Cornell will continue its quest for its first victory this Friday against Fairfield University (2-0) at 7 p.m.
“We expect a good game [against Fairfield],” Lyman said. “We are a really young team and we are going to have many bumps, but we learned a lot from the previous two games. We will seek to correct mistakes and stay focused on our game plan.”