February 1, 2002

Women Try to Stay First Place in Ivies

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If only the first half of last weekend’s contest with Columbia had counted, the women’s basketball team would be the sole member of the Ivy League with a goose egg on the left side of its record.

Alas, there could not be a first half without a second, and it is that fact that caused a blemish to appear on the Red’s record.

In Newman Arena last Saturday, Cornell (9-8, 3-1 Ivy) jogged off the court at halftime with a 10-point lead after hitting a dizzying .500 (17-for-34) from the field.

Remembering the previous weekend’s action in New York City where the Red held only a three-point advantage over Columbia at the half, Cornell undoubtedly felt more confident heading into the locker room being ahead by ten. Its shots were finding the bottom of the net more frequently than in the teams’ previous meeting and the Red had home court advantage.

Additionally, the Lions had not beaten Cornell in Ithaca in more than 10 years. Time was definitely on the Red’s side.

Columbia refused to allow its losing streak to increase to 11 years and came out firing in the second half. Its 11-3 run over the first five minutes of play cut the deficit to two-points. The Red responded and, with 4:31 remaining, pulled ahead 58-50.

The Lions were not finished, however, and its hot hand, combined with Cornell’s inability to sink any of its final eight shots, allowed Columbia to force the game into overtime.

The Red’s troubles continued into the extra minutes, where it was 2-for-11 from the field, and Columbia, nailing four key free throws in the final minute of play, came out a 69-97 winner.

“When we are timid, when we second-guess our shots, when we look at the defense instead of focusing on the rim, that’s when we get off,” senior guard and tri-captain Do Stevens commented on the loss.

“I have been having a tough time letting go of Columbia,” head coach Marnie Dacko vented. “We just have to go out and play the game like we are playing on the playground and just relax and have fun. They strive for perfection, and it’s not going to happen on the basketball court.”

This weekend, Cornell will battle two new Ivy foes to maintain its post atop the league standings.

Tonight, Pennsylvania (5-11, 1-2) comes to the East Hill off of a 76-56 loss to Harvard (11-5, 2-1). Penn’s only win came in a 76-64 victory over Dartmouth (5-11, 1-2) and its other loss was to Princeton.

The Quakers, last year’s undefeated Ivy champs, are still adjusting to the graduation of Diana Caramanico, who last year was the player of the year and the league’s top scorer. The loss of several other players has also taken its toll on Penn, which may explain its slow start.

The team is lead by sophomore Jewel Clark, who leads the team in scoring (13.3 ppg) and rebounds (7.8 rpg). The guard was named to the All-Ivy Rookie team last year. Senior forward Julie Epton was named to the Ivy honor roll this week after she scored 17 points in the team’s 83-60 win over Lafayette. She is second on the team with 9.9 ppg.

“Penn is a different team than they were a year ago. They’ve got a pretty good inside/outside game,” Dacko said.

“Penn might expect to win, and I don’t know how they are overall compared to other teams, but any team that has confidence is really good,” sophomore forward Tanya Karcic added.

Princeton (8-8, 2-1), currently tied for second in the league with Harvard, is coming off a 75-63 loss to Stony Brook on Tuesday. The Tigers shot consistently from all areas of the court in that game, hitting 45.2% from the field, including 45.5% of its three-pointers.

Freshman guard Karen Bolster contributed to the team’s success at the basket by landing five of her eight attempts from beyond the arc, as well as adding 19 points. Junior guard Allison Cahill tallied a game-high 20 points and was also named the Ivy League player of the week in early January. She also leads the team with 15.3 ppg.

“Princeton likes the three-point shots,” Dacko summarized. “The biggest key against both is transition defense and getting back on defense.”

“We have to rely on our offense and our defense and it should be a good game,” Karcic echoed.

“We just have to keep our focus throughout the entire game — if we keep our intensity and our focus and our concentration on our shots, they will fall,” sophomore guard and tri-captain Karen Force said.

Tonight’s game against Penn will start at 7 p.m. Tomorrow’s game with Princeton will also start at 7 p.m. and both games will be held in Newman Arena.

“I think we will win,” Stevens ended.

“We are expecting two very good games. Both teams are very talented. We are expecting some fast paced games, some intense games,” Force concluded.

Archived article by Katherine Granish