On the night that first-year coach Dayna Smith made her first trip back to the Palestra since taking charge of the Cornell women’s basketball program, it was one of her former players who stole the spotlight.
Although junior guard Karen Force paced the Red (7-12, 1-5 Ivy) with a career-high 29 points, the Quakers pulled off a 75-65 win courtesy of a 26-point, eight-rebound effort from the Ivy League’s Player of the Week, Jewel Clark.
In the second game of the Red’s road trip, Princeton overcame a 11 point half-time deficit to record a narrow 66-63 win.
On Friday, a dominating performance from Clark ensured that Smith would not be receiving any favors on her return to her old stomping grounds. After staying close for most of the first half behind the shooting of Force, the Red allowed the Quakers (9-9, 3-2 Ivy) to open up a 37-30 lead at the break.
Force responded immediately after the start of the second half with a 3-pointer, but the Quakers answered with a 9-0 run to stretch the lead to 46-33.
The Red would cut the lead down to five in the later stages of the game, but Penn iced the contest with some crisp outside shooting down the stretch.
In a losing effort, Force poured in 29 points on 8-19 shooting to go with five rebounds and five assists, before fouling out with seconds left to play. As one of the veterans of a young Cornell squad, the Indiana native has taken over much of the offensive void left by the departures of Do Stevens ’02 and Breann Walas ’02. Force has upped her scoring to nearly 14 points a game, and has now led the Red in scoring on twelve different occasions this season.
At Princeton, the Red looked to be on course for its second league victory of the year, before a late flurry by the Tigers (7-12, 2-3 Ivy) swung the game in their direction.
Cornell opened up an early 12-5 lead thanks to a colossal effort from junior Dani Aretino, who grabbed five offensive rebounds inside the first six minutes. After a run by Princeton knotted the score at 15, the Red controlled the rest of the half, entering the locker-room with a comfortable 37-26 advantage.
In front of a raucous crowd of 2,972 at the Jadwin Gym, the Tigers went on a 13-5 run midway through the second half, cutting the deficit to 51-50. The Red looked to pull away again, holding on to a 59-55 lead with five minutes left to play.
Back came the Tigers again, as Rebecca Brown’s layup with 2:16 on the clock gave Princeton a 61-59 lead. On the next possession, Kelly Schaeffer scored two of her game-high 22 to stretch the lead to four. The Red failed to get any closer, although a last-gasp score by Aretino did cut the margin of defeat to three points.
Aretino finished with a season-high 14 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass, helping the Red to a 43-29 edge on the boards. However, while the Tigers had seven fewer shot attempts thanks to Aretino’s heroics, they made them count, connecting on 51 percent of their field goals. After playing virtually the entire game on Friday, Force logged 39 more minutes against Princeton, guiding the offense with 12 points and eight assists.
Having played five of its first six league games on the road, the Red will now open up a four-game homestand, with Dartmouth and Harvard the visitors next weekend. The return of the Crimson to Newman Arena will evoke memories of last season’s epic battle, when Harvard effectively snatched the league title from the Red in double-overtime.
Archived article by Soo Kim