February 18, 2002

W. Hoops Drops Brown, Yale

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Another close game, another dramatic finish, and another win for the women’s basketball team. Senior guard Do Stevens has scored her share of points in a stellar career, but none will prove to be more important than the two free throws she sank with 2.3 seconds remaining in Saturday’s 51-49 win at Brown.

In a frantic finale, the Red (14-9, 8-2 Ivy) was given an opportunity to break a 49-49 deadlock when Brown’s Erin-Kate Barton commited a turnover. With eight ticks on the clock, Stevens’s game-winning attempt fell short, but sophomore Tanya Karcic was on hand to nab the rebound. Karcic promptly found Stevens again, and this time the determined tri-captain was fouled in the process. A timeout later, she nonchalantly drained both free throws to give the Red a season sweep against the Bears.

“‘Just hit ’em,’ that was the only thing I said to myself,” said Stevens. “I didn’t wanna think about it too much. I said a quick little prayer after the timeout and that helped immensely.”

While Stevens will savor those last few seconds, she will likely want to forget about the rest of the game. The Red’s leading scorer was an uncharacteristic 2-15 from the field, and only 2-7 from the charity stripe prior to her late heroics. Her teammates did not fare any better, as the Red shot 23.9% for the game, including 3-21 from beyond the arc.

However, the offensive sputtering was compensated for at the defensive end, where Cornell recorded 16 steals and pressured the Bears into 29 turnovers. Stevens alone had seven steals, three more than Brown’s team total.

How did the Red win a game while shooting 23.9% from the field?

“That’s a good question!” replied head coach Marnie Dacko. “It was terrible shooting. When you look at the stats, we’re not supposed to win. There was a little luck on our side, one fell our way.”

Dacko believes that playing the second game of an arduous road trip against a lesser opponent may also have taken a toll on her players.

“As much as I say, ‘Take one game at a time,’ [the players] know that Brown was 2-9,” she said. “It’s hard to play back-to-back games in the Ivy League. It was a sloppy, sloppy game; we didn’t capitalize on their 29 turnovers.”

It may not have been pretty, but tri-captain Stevens was pleased with the result.

“We find ways to win,” she observed. “Each player steps up in her own way. It shows how much heart we have.”

On Friday, the Red had kept up its Ivy League challenge with a 60-51 win over Yale in New Haven. Stevens played a starring role, pouring in a season high 23 points to go with her 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

Junior forward Lynell Davis had an outstanding game inside, connecting on 8-11 shots for 16 points and 9 rebounds. Overall, the Red kept the Bulldogs at bay with solid defense, recording 14 steals and limiting Yale to 32% shooting.

The stage is now set for a showdown at Newman Arena on Friday night, against a fitting adversary, Harvard. With victories against Penn and Princeton over the weekend, the Crimson (17-5, 8-1 Ivy) currently hangs on to a half-game advantage at the top of the league.

The long history of Cornell-Harvard rivalries has yielded few triumphs in the Red’s women’s basketball history, but Cornell is enjoying its best season ever.

This time, there is more at stake for the Red than just bragging rights: a maiden Ivy League title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

“We have to just concern ourselves with playing our best basketball,” said Dacko. “They’re gonna be very physical, they like to run, and crash the boards. We’ve got to be prepared to play transition defense and hit the boards.”

“It’s gonna be a good game, a battle,” said Stevens. “But we feel that we have the advantage.”

Archived article by Soo Kim