January 26, 2004

W. Basketball Drops Ivy Home Opener to Lions

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Despite a 25-point showing from senior tri-captain Karen Force, the Cornell women’s basketball team (6-9, 1-1 Ivy) was forced to play catch-up for the entire game against Columbia (8-8, 1-1) last Saturday at Newman Arena after letting the Lions take an early 10-4 lead. The Red came within two points to make the score 10-8, but would not come closer for the rest of the game as Columbia cruised to a 76-67 win over the Red.

“I’m disappointed,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “I thought our defensive intensity just wasn’t there and we came out flat. We let them have some easy post scores which [are] going to spread us out, and we gave them some easy looks at the three-point line. I’m disappointed [with] our energy level.”

Cornell beat the Lions at Columbia over the winter break, 61-50, in the team’s Ivy opener. Columbia was ready to go this time, however, as the Lions came out hard right out of the starting gate. Three Columbia players scored in double digits, led by 23 points from point guard Sue Altman, who seemed to go out of her way to match Force shot for shot in the game.

“Sue’s a very good player,” said Smith. “We knew that coming in and we shut her down last week. She’s a good player, and she’s going to score. But some nights, the other team’s going to be hot, and we’ve got to learn that that’s OK, [but] let’s outscore them.”

The Red struggled a great deal in the first half and could never recover. The Lions outrebounded the Red 9-8 in Cornell’s own end in the first half, and went into halftime up 36-26.

“I went into the locker room and told them that they didn’t come out ready to play,” explained Smith. “We’ve got to be uptempo, and we weren’t that in the first half. We were sluggish, we were slow, we played very poor post defense, and we weren’t aggressive from the offensive end.”

The second half was much better for the Red, as Cornell would outscore Columbia 41-40. The Red shot 48.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range in the second half, up from 39.1 field goal percentage and 33.3 percent from three-point range in the first half. However, the Lions did not slow down from their first half production, shooting 60 percent from the field and a solid 37.5 percent from three-point range. In addition, the Red continued to fail to control post play in the second half. Forward Erin Jaschik and guard Nicole Lesko both were able to penetrate inside for Columbia, and finished the game with 10 and 15 points, respectively. Even 5-4 point guard Lizi Chorney found a way to pick up baskets inside, with four of her seven points coming from inside the arc.

Much of the Red’s recent success has stemmed from every player being involved, but this wasn’t the case in Saturday’s game. Force didn’t have much of a supporting cast, but reached several milestones herself, becoming the first player in Cornell women’s basketball history to score 1000 points and register 400 assists.

“Karen had a great game,” said Smith. “The thing about our team lately is that it’s been two or three people per game. I thought we had a few great spots from everybody at certain moments, but we’ve consistently had two or three people in double figures and we didn’t have that.”

When questioned about her accomplishment, Force was more concerned about her team’s performance.

“I had no idea,” said Force. “It’s an honor to accomplish things like that, but I don’t really focus on them. I think what we pride ourselves on is team basketball.”

With this loss, Cornell drops to 6-9 on the season. The Red continues its string of Ivy League games at home against Harvard this Friday at 7 p.m.

Archived article by Michael Pandolfini

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