The Cornell women’s basketball team (2-2, 0-0 Ivy) headed south this weekend to play in the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic.
The Red saw its first action on Friday against tournament host Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a season that saw the squad reach the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, and they proved the team to beat this weekend.
In the first half, Tech had trouble getting past the rust that came with its first regular season game, and Cornell capitalized. The Red took the lead early and would not relent, maintaining the lead with a 6-for-10 effort from beyond the three-point arc. Cornell found itself with a 10-point lead several times over the last 10 minutes of the half, but strong offensive rebounding by the Jackets to end the half closed the score at a 40-37 Cornell advantage.
The second half featured an NCAA powerhouse the Red expected. With 9:17 left in the game, Georgia Tech tied the game at 51-51 on a lay-up. 1:30 later, Tech’s leading scorer in the contest, sophomore guard Niesha Butler, sank a short jumper to give her squad the lead for good.
Despite a five minute period during the last 10 minutes of the game in which the Red did not find the bottom of the net, Cornell battled to keep the game close, losing by a final score of 74-67.
Sophomore forward Katie Romey led the team with 15 points and six rebounds on the night, while freshman guard standout Karen Force had 13 points and went 7-for-9 from the free-throw line. Junior backcourt mates Breean Walas and Deborah Stevens both put up double-digits in points and both had two three-pointers.
The difference in this game came down to rebounding. Despite shooting 48% (24-for-50) from the field, 50% (7-for-14) in three-pointers, and 65% (13-for-20) in free throws, which topped Tech in all three categories, the Red did not get many second chance shots. Cornell pulled down six offensive boards on the night, while Tech grabbed 27, giving the Jackets many opportunities to take the lead and maintain it with short jumpers.
Additionally, both teams had 23 defensive rebounds, giving Cornell and Tech 29 and 50 total rebounds, respectively.
“When I looked at the tape after the game, I thought we played decent defense, but we got killed on the boards,” head coach Marnie Dacko said.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, so we came out ready to go,” Romey said of the team’s effort. “We gave it a good shot, and we feel we could have won, but we were happy we gave them a run for their money.”
On Saturday, Cornell faced Winthrop, a squad from South Carolina looking for its first win of the regular season.
The consolation match started slowly for both teams, but Cornell came out slightly ahead 14-6 at the 10 minute mark, thanks to two baskets by senior forward Sandy Martisauskas to ignite the offense. That spark was enough to send the Red into half-time with a 35-22 lead.
Cornell wasted little time in the final 20 minutes establishing its lead, increasing it to 40-22 before the Eagles netted their first points of the half with 15:47 to go. The Red faced few hitches in the rest of the match, and took a 21-point lead, its biggest of the match, at 3:23. Cornell was the victor by a score of 59-44.
“We had a running game going tonight, which is what we didn’t have against Tech,” Dacko explained.
Romey, named to the all-tournament team, was amazing, as she matched her career high with 19 points. Ten of those points came on heads-up passes through the defense to Romey, who was waiting open under the net.
Martisauskas stepped up with nine points, while sophomore guard Lynell Davis jumped for a team-high seven rebounds and sank eight points.
Despite its previous success Tech, the Red combined with its opponent to go 3-for-30 from the three-point line during the game, including an 0-for-17 drought in the first half.
Dacko is encouraged by what she has seen from this squad.
“This was a great experience for our team and I’m proud of them. They are a solid team and they have to stay together. We have to learn and keep going, and going, and going. We are working for our ultimate goal of the Ivy League tournament, and we are going to have a great club come that time,” she concluded.
The Red will play its next match at home this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Newman Arena against Colgate.
Archived article by Katherine Granish