February 15, 2002

Women's Cagers Visit Yale, Brown

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With just six games left in its schedule, the women’s basketball team holds it’s destiny firmly in its grasp. If the Red (12-9, 6-2 Ivy) can win all of its remaining games, Cornell will clinch a share of its first-ever Ivy league championship.

However, the short term can often get lost in the ultimate outlook, and the lady cagers most immediate concern is the current road trip which will continue this weekend at Yale (11-10, 4-4) today and Brown (5-16, 2-6) tomorrow.

When the Red hosted the Bulldogs and Bears at home earlier this season, a dramatic weekend resulted, with both games being decided by a single shot.

In its first meeting against Yale back on January 12, the Red squandered a 17-point second half lead, only to see senior tri-captain Breean Walas provide the heroics off a missed Bulldog free-throw. In one of the most exciting moments at Newman Arena in recent memory, the guard took the ball coast to coast with 17 seconds left and squeezed past three Yale defenders to put in the winning shot at the buzzer. The final score of the heart-stopper was 64-62.

The night prior against Brown was no less exciting, as the Red was forced to overcome a poor offensive effort in the first half to win another close contest, 58-56. Cornell put together a run with about five minutes left to go behind solid shooting from the other tri-captains, senior Do Stevens and sophomore Karen Force, and never looked back from that point.

This weekend the Red must play just as well, but this time in its opponents’ backyards. Of course, the team that Cornell has become over the course of its dream season is much different than the inconsistent team that Yale and Brown faced a month ago.

The Red is currently in the midst of an impressive run which includes 10 wins in its last 14 games, not to mention a confidence-boosting six straight wins on Yale/Brown weekends.

The biggest obstacle for the Red this weekend may not even be the unfriendly confines it will encounter in Providence and New Haven, but rather the memory of things that went wrong in Cambridge last Saturday.

Cornell fell a half-game back of the Crimson at the top of the league last week when Harvard took advantage of a second half lull and defeated the tired lady cagers by six points, 64-58. However, the very end of that game showed a lot about the fight in the lady cagers, as the Red mounted a valiant comeback with 2 minutes left that cut a ten point Harvard lead to three with only seconds remaining.

Head coach Marnie Dacko claimed that her team had simply run out of time and energy. Time and energy happen to be two things that now stand in Cornell’s favor, as for the first time in three seasons, the Red heads into the home-stretch of the season at full strength.

This weekend should be a telling sign of whether the Red can ignore the mistakes of just a week ago and the potential for a title that lies just two weeks ahead, and instead concentrate on the moment and the task at hand.

This may be a magical year for a long-dormant Cornell program to break out and gain national attention. Yet that can only be accomplished with the smallest steps, and two of those steps now face the Red.

It is pretty certain that at the forefront of this squad, and leading the movement forward will be the dynamic trio of Walas, Stevens, and Force, all of whom have been named Ivy League Player of the Week at some point this season. They will be counted upon during these last three weeks of competition not just on the court but also off the court, keeping the team’s mind on the very next game while remaining focused on the ultimate goal.

If the Red can sweep its remaining games and Harvard falters along the way, Cornell will make it to its first NCAA tournament.

Archived article by Scott Jones