Freshman Karen Force approached the foul line in the closing seconds of a highly contested match with Ivy League foe Columbia and belied both nerves and inexperience sinking a pair of free throws to preserve a 56-53 victory before a lively crowd at Newman Arena on Saturday evening.
The lady cagers held the Lions to a paltry 18% shooting performance in the opening stanza and opened a 25-16 lead by halftime. Senior Jennifer Linker and sophomore Katie Romey each recorded 12 points to lead Cornell.
Despite the Red’s high-octane performance in the first half, it would be forced to rely on late heroics. Certainly, Cornell’s showing in the opening moments would not be indicative of the tense finish in the game. The cagers cruised to a 14-3 lead to begin the contest, behind six points from Romey.
The Red trailed 44-43 with just under five minutes to play. After Linker sank a free-throw to draw even, Force converted on a turnaround jumper to put Cornell back in front.
The game continued to see-saw, as the Lions’ Katie Day scored two of her 11 points on a game tying layup. The Red regained the advantage after Linker’s trip to the charity stripe.
Columbia came within a possession when rookie Tanya Karic claimed a rebound off a miss by junior Breean Wallas and canned a soft jumper to extend to a 55-51 lead. It was an auspicious ending to Karic’s first career start.
The Lions were able to edge to within a basket when Day, who logged 32 minutes, guided a follow-up through the net. Force was then fouled with seven ticks remaining. Showing poise beyond her years, she converted on both attempts to apply the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Sophomore Shawnee Pickney raised some eyebrows in a loosing effort for the Lions, tallying 13 of Columbia’s 16 points. She was 3-for-11 behind the arc en route to a career best 20 point performance.
The teams will duel again in a Saturday evening engagement at Columbia.
Archived article by Gary Schueller