After a weekend in which Cornell suffered two heartbreaking losses to Yale and Brown, the team returns home to face off against Penn on Friday and Princeton on Saturday. Both games will be heavily contested, as Penn has a similar record to the Red, and Princeton comes in at the top of the Ivy League after a blowout win over Harvard. In addition, Saturday’s game against Princeton will also feature the annual Pink Zone contest, an event the women’s basketball team holds every year to raise money for the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.
“Last weekend was definitely disappointing,” said junior guard Taylor Flynn. “However, we feel as though we still have something to prove. If we can come out of this weekend knowing that we gave an all-around effort, than we know that we will gain the respect we deserve in the Ivy League.”
On Friday, the Red (9-12, 3-4 Ivy League) will play a Penn (9-12, 2-5) team that has struggled with health and consistency all season. After the Quakers got off to a promising 7-2 start, injuries began to plague top players, such as All-Ivy performer Jess Knapp. Ever since Knapp’s injury, Penn has won only two games in its past 12 contests and is averaging just over 50 points per game in its current slump. However, the Red will also have to deal with Penn’s third-year head coach Mike McLaughlin, who reached 400 wins faster than any coach in the history of women’s college basketball.
“Penn is a solid team, but I really believe that if we just play Cornell basketball, we can show them a good game,” said junior forward Claire Fitzpatrick. “We were not able to play our game against Yale and Brown, and we are really focusing on playing our style of basketball for 40 minutes.”
Unlike the Quakers, the Princeton Tigers (17-4, 7-0) are a program that has utterly dominated the Ivy League for the past three years. The Tigers are 34-1 in conference play over three seasons, and 67-12 overall. They have yet to lose a game in conference play this season, and are coming off a blowout win against League rival Harvard. Princeton features junior forward Niveen Rasheen, who scored 24 points against Harvard to become the third player on the team to reach the 1,000 point milestone in career scoring.
However, despite Princeton’s success and the two losses on the road to Yale and Brown, Cornell looks to be competitive against a talented Princeton team. “Princeton has a lot of great players,” Fitzpatrick said. “At the same time, we feel as though we have a lot of talent on this team and that, if we play a strong 40 minutes, we can be competitive with anyone.”
The Red will also be playing with the additions of senior forward Maka Anyanwu, sophomore guard Shelby Lyman and freshman forward Sarah Poland, three key players who were not able to play in the weekend match-ups against Yale and Brown.
“I feel that, throughout the season, this team has come together and is really beginning to play as one,” Flynn said. “With Maka, Shelby, and Sarah back in the lineup, we can feed off of each other’s talents and strengths and really do something special.”