November 16, 2001

Women ready for Eagle Classic at Eastern Michigan

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This weekend, the women’s basketball team will head to Eastern Michigan University for its Eagle Classic.

Cornell is coming off its best season ever. Posting a 15-12 overall mark, along with an 8-6 Ivy record, the Red finished in third place in the league.

Tonight, Cornell will face Eastern Michigan University and begin its quest to an Ivy Championship. The Red will have a tough schedule of non-conference opponents to face before it gets to play the teams that factor into its run to the NCAA.

The Eagles are coming off an 83-73 exhibition loss to RTU Klondaika.

Senior guard Stephanie Smiley led the Eagles with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while senior forward Shani Charles added 12 points and nine rebounds.

“They have some great outside shooters that really lead their team,” sophomore tri-captain and guard Karen Force acknowledged. “We have practiced different ways to stop them, so hopefully with [our] five people on the court and [our] aggressive defense we will be able to stop them.”

On paper, the Red posted similar statistics as the Eagles did last year, but head coach Marnie Dacko is remaining composed. Last year, the team worked on rebounding for the majority of the season, and Dacko keeps that in the back of her mind.

“We have to come out and establish the boards and our defense and give them only one shot at the basket,” she said. “My concern right now is rebounding, positioning on the boards and getting the ball. The boards will be the tell tail on this game,”

Senior tri-captain and guard Do Stevens took an optimistic approach to tonight’s game.

“We match up pretty well with them and we feel we can pressure them,” Stevens commented.

“We have to play very good defense, obviously, but I think we have an advantage because of our running game and because we have too many shooters for them to block,” she continued.

Tomorrow, the Red will face either Howard University or Austin Peay, both teams that competed in the NCAA tournament last year. Howard University was chosen to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) by 16 of 17 voting coaches and sports directors in the division.

Contributing to that ranking is senior forward Andrea Gardner. This 6’3″ giant was the 2000-2001 conference player of the year averaging 19.4 ppg while leading the nation in rebounding (14.2 rpg) and in double-doubles with 24. The Bison return four starters from its regular season and tournament championship squad. The team was 21-10 overall last year, with a 15-3 conference mark.

Defending OVC champ Austin Peay posted a 17-14 overall record last year, with a 10-6 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) record. The Lady Govs were picked to finish second out of nine teams in the OVC preseason poll, no doubt due to the presence of junior guard Brooke Armistead. Last year, she was named to the first-team All-OVC and was the most valuable player of the OVC tournament. She was ranked seventh nationally averaging 22.1 ppg, and second in the nation among sophomores. Armistead scored 20 or more points in all but nine of the team’s contests. She also hit the 1,000 point mark lastseason, becoming the 19th fastest player in Division I history to reach that feat.

“We are going to take our knocks, but we are just going to have to get up and keep ticking to find a way,” Dacko reflected on the weekend. “We would like to win the tournament outright, but overall, we would like everyone to become comfortable with each other and trust each other with the ball,” Stevens said of the team’s goals.

Junior forward Lynell Davis also commented on the team’s aspirations.

“We are excited and with that excitement we will be able to come out hard and hopefully win the tournament,” she said. “Ready, that is the word. Ready.”

Archived article by Josh Vlasto