The Cornell women’s basketball team (7-10, 1-3 Ivy) began this weekend with its fourth loss in a row, but 24 hours later earned its first league win. On Friday, the Red faced a potent Brown squad (10-7, 4-0) that was fresh off a pair of solid wins over Yale and had earned numerous weekly league accolades.
In the first stanza, Cornell kept pace with the Bears through the opening 10 minutes, but then found itself unable to sink baskets while its opponent went on a 16-6 run. Unwilling to go into halftime down by an insurmountable margin, the Red collected itself to score six of the final 10 points. Midway through the contest, Cornell entered the locker room on the short end of a 34-26 score.
“Early on, we put ourselves in a hole. We were doing some good things, but weren’t really stopping Brown,” head coach Dayna Smith said. “We had some unforced errors.”
In the second half, both teams traded streaks. The Bears used a 17-3 run early on to extend its lead to 61-41, but the Red responded with a 17-2 run of its own to cut the score to 63-58 in favor of Brown.
Those five-points were the closest Cornell would come to victory for the remainder of the game as the Bears began connecting after almost five scoreless minutes and ultimately took the game by a final score of 73-63.
“Brown is a very good team but we stopped ourselves on the defensive end. We made a good comeback in the second half and we told the team we just need to build from that,” Smith said. “If we had played like that the whole game, we would have had a chance to win.”
For the game, Cornell shot 43.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the three-point line. Both statistics bested Brown, who shot 37.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.
What made the difference in the contest were the discrepancies between rebounds, steals, and turnovers. The Bears benefited from 49 boards, 17 steals, and 18 turnovers, while the Red had 37, seven, and 25, respectively. Brown had more second and third chance shots than Cornell, which factored into the final minutes of the contest in the Bears’ favor.
Junior guards Karen Force and Lauren Kilduff tied for a team-high 13 points. Kilduff also led the team with seven boards, tying junior forward Tanya Karcic. Karcic contributed 12 points. Junior forward Katie Romey netted 10 points with four rebounds. Three Bears players carried the team as they combined for 58 points and 25 rebounds.
“Our offense was starting to click. Our shooting percentage was up and we played more aggressively on the defensive end,” Smith said. “In the Brown game, we made huge steps and we carried that over into the Yale game.”
Heading into the weekend, Yale (4-13, 1-3) was looking for its first Ivy win after suffering a pair of losses to travel partner Brown. That victory came in a two-point win over Columbia on Friday night. The Bulldogs were no doubt ready to capitalize on the Red’s streak of misfortunes, but Cornell quickly quelled a Yale uprising with a 15-4 run to open the contest.
The Red’s success continued into a 31-11 lead as it limited the Bulldogs to only two field goals through the first 15 minutes of the opening half. Yale would not go quietly, however, and closed the gap to a score of 39-27 at the midway buzzer.
The 16-6 run that the Bulldogs used to end the half would not be repeated in the second frame and Cornell cruised on to an 80-70 victory.
“I think it was a great feeling,” Smith said of the win. “We finally put all the little pieces together. We were shooting shots that were open and that we should make. We were aggressive. On the defensive end, I can’t say enough about how great the intensity was. We came out fired up and caught Yale off guard a little bit.”
As a team, the Red carried over the positives from the Brown game and improved on the negatives. Cornell shot 41.2 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from behind the arc, while Yale shot 30 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively, from the same areas. The Red had 24 rebounds, eight steals and 13 turnovers while it limited the Bulldogs to 29 boards, six steals and 14 turnovers.
“The team learned a lot of lessons on Saturday night,” said Smith. “If we come out with intensity on the defensive end, it fuels the offensive end.”
Individually, Cornell had stellar performances from several players. Force continued her brilliance with a career and game-high 28 points, including a 15-for-18 feat from the free-throw line. Senior forward Lynell Davis added 22 points and tied a game-high with seven rebounds. Kilduff continues to maintain her presence on the court and contributed 11 points.
“I feel like [the whole team] stepped up. Davis and Force stepped it up on the offensive end. To be honest, I think that is something [Davis and Force] can do night-in and night-out. Karen just put the team on her shoulders on some plays and got key baskets,” Smith said. “We played tremendous defense and the people off the bench played well, there was no drop off in play. All 14 of them need to be in it, and we were on Saturday night.”
For Yale, four players scored in the double digits, with sophomore forward Tory Mauseth leading the way. She led the team with 21 points and five rebounds.
This weekend was important for the team, not only in its first league win, but also for the chemistry that has developed between the players themselves and the coaching staff.
“We are still getting to know each other and trying to learn the system. I think that we did some good things against Brown and it was the first time that the team was clicking for the [majority of a game],” said Smith. “I told the team that hopefully this is the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do for the rest of the season, and it won’t be easy from here on out, but we can definitely use this as a stepping-stone.”
Archived article by Katherine Granish