February 8, 2002

Red Basketball Faces Major Ivy League Weekend

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Respect has traditionally been hard to come by for the women’s basketball team after years of languishing in the lower end of the Ivy League hierarchy.

Back in November, the Ivy League preseason media poll placed Cornell in fourth place.

Forgotten was the fact that the women had come storming back from a 2-4 start last season to finish in third place. Forgotten was the fact that the Red returned three of the league’s premier guards.

Undeterred, the women have gone about answering the skeptics in the most effective fashion, through their performances on the court. With Harvard and Dartmouth looming this weekend, the Red (11-8, 5-1 Ivy) looks to keep its hopes of a first ever league title alive.

The corresponding fixtures from last season will hardly inspire fond memories for anyone associated with Cornell basketball. The Red suffered a heartbreaking 61-58 setback in Cambridge, before being routed 65-49 at Dartmouth. Those two defeats grounded the Red’s title aspirations before they had even taken off, dropping the women to 2-4 in the league. A year later, it will hope that history does not repeat itself.

On Friday night, the Red travels to Hanover, hoping to continue the Big Green’s miserable run at home. Dartmouth (6-12, 2-3 Ivy), billed in preseason as one of the league’s top teams, has failed to live up expectations and has dropped all five home contests this season. The player to watch will undoubtedly be junior All-Ivy forward Katharine Hanks, who is averaging 20.8 points per game and has led the Green in scoring on 12 occasions this season.

The stage will then be set for the showdown with an in-form Crimson side. Harvard (13-5, 4-1 Ivy) has won four straight and 10 of 12 overall to cut the Red’s lead at the top of the league to a mere half-game. With defending Ivy champions Penn faltering early on, Harvard appears to be the biggest obstacle in the Red’s run for the league title. The Crimson will be led by the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Hana Peljto, who has built on her spectacular freshman season to lead the team in scoring (20.6) and rebounding (8.5). While there is still plenty to play for, the result of this game is likely to have serious repercussions on the final standings come March.

The Red will once again look to their explosive guard trio of Do Stevens, Breean Walas, and Karen Force to ignite its offense. Stevens became the third Cornell player to be named the Ivy League’s Player of the Week after her dominating performances against Penn and Princeton last week. She recorded 38 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists in the two contests, and is averaging a healthy 14.8 points per game for the year.

Archived article by Soo Kim