The women’s basketball team started its Ivy League schedule with a tough 61-58 home loss to Columbia on Saturday. The two teams played a tight contest that was ultimately decided by a few possessions in the game’s closing minutes. The Red fell to 6-7 (0-1 Ivy) with the loss, while the Lions improved to 8-7 (1-0) on the year.
The game began with a 10-3 run by the Lions, which continued a trend the Red defense has struggled to break all season long.
“I was a little disappointed with the way we came out defensively, we allowed them to get some easy baskets,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We need to stop putting ourselves in a hole at this point in the season.”
The early deficit forced Cornell to play from behind for nearly the entire first half with the Red taking its first lead with just over four minutes remaining on junior tri-captain Karen Force’s three pointer.
“We’re a very intense team,” said Force, “but if we don’t bring that intensity right away, it takes a lot of emotion and energy to get back in the game.”
The final minutes of the first half saw the lead switch hands several times. However, it was Cornell that took the momentum into the break when Force hit a slashing lay-up as time expired.
Force had 10 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 18.
The second half was a battle under the boards, which the scrappy Red frontline was able to dominate until the game’s final minutes.
The Red outrebounded the Lions 45-34, with the entire margin coming on the offensive boards where the Red held a 24-11 advantage. Leading the Red’s rebounding spree were junior Lauren Kilduff and sophomore Sarah Lee with nine each.
However, in the end it was the Lions’ big bodies up front that made the difference. Forward Nicole Lesko scoring the team’s final six points, including a gutsy 10-foot baseline jumper to put her team up by three points with 13 seconds remaining.
The Red had an opportunity to tie the score off an inbound play with 10 seconds remaining but senior forward Lynell Davis turned the ball over on an errant pass to Force.
“We tried to set up a backscreen flare cut for Karen to take a three but Lynell just jumped the gun,” said Smith of the play.
However, the miscue would not be Cornell’s final shot at evening the score. With four seconds left, Columbia’s Edytte Key missed the front end of a one and one, which was rebounded by junior Tanya Karcic. Karcic sent the ball up the floor to Force, who hit junior Katie Romey for a last second prayer that bounced off the backrim and out.
Though the Red dominated the inside for much of the game, the Lions were able to get more easy shots in the second half. Columbia shot just under 50 percent from the field in the period.
The Red struggled to match Columbia layup for layup, often settling for outside jumpers.
“This was the first team we faced that was quite that big and it’s important we start recognizing that someone is open when we get to the glass and they collapse on us,” said Force of the physical play.
The Red will get a chance to rebound from the discouraging loss today, as it heads upstate to take on Buffalo at 7 p.m.
Archived article by Scott Jones