February 2, 2004

W. Hoops Splits Weekend Series

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After falling to Harvard in double overtime two years ago, it was only fitting that the women’s basketball team beat the Crimson (8-8, 1-2 Ivy) in similar fashion. The Red (7-10, 2-2 Ivy) knocked off the two-time defending Ivy League champions, 66-64, in a come-from-behind overtime thriller. Hoping to top another strong Ivy foe the following night, the Red came up short in an 81-76 loss to Dartmouth. Still, with Friday’s victory over the Crimson, Cornell showed that it can play with any team in the league.

“Anytime you knock off Harvard, the two-time defending champ, it’s a big win,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We’ve been through a lot lately, so it’s a huge win for us. You can’t really put it into words.”

With the memory of the double-overtime loss from two years ago, the win is very satisfying for the Red’s seniors.

“This game, starting five seniors, we all experienced that [loss], and so we know what it’s like to have that game taken away, and we knew that we weren’t going to let that happen tonight,” said senior tri-captain Karen Force.

Down by eight with 2:27 remaining in regulation, the Red rallied back, as Force hit four straight free throws to cut the deficit to four. After Harvard missed three of its next four attempts at the charity stripe, the Red still found itself in a five-point hole with 23 seconds left.

As the clocked ticked down to 10 seconds, sophomore Sarah Brown sent up a 3-pointer that banked off the glass and in. After two missed Harvard free throws, senior tri-captain Katie Romey rebounded the ball and dished it to Force. Streaking down the left side of the court, Force drove hard to the basket, and sent up a left-handed layup that went off the glass and in, with 0.9 seconds remaining, and the game went to overtime with both teams deadlocked at 55.

“It was kind of the situation where you have to read what’s going on. It’s not the kind of situation where you can come down and say ‘Alright, this is the play we’re going to run because we know it’s going to work.’ With how things had been throughout the game, you couldn’t really do that,” said Force. “I saw the post defender take a step up, and I saw the lane open up. Time was running out so I had to do it.”

In the extra session, Force drove inside again for another layup, putting the Red up by two. On the ensuing Harvard possession, Brown stole the ball at midcourt. With 35 seconds left, senior tri-captain Lauren Kilduff got to the line three times, sinking five of her six attempts.

“All week I’ve been taking a lot of foul shots in the gym, and I was mentally preparing myself, and remembering what to remember, and when I stepped up, I really wasn’t that nervous,” said Kilduff. “I was surprised because I’m a nervous person, but I was just calm and thinking about my technique, you know, follow through and everything. I was just feeling it, I guess.”

Kilduff went 12-for-14 at the line, as the team shot 82.9 percent from the charity stripe, compared to Harvard’s 59.1 percent. With both teams shooting poorly from the floor, the game was decided at the line.

“We didn’t shoot the lights out of the ball, except in the overtime. Shooting 27 percent, you look at that line, you’re not going to win many games,” Smith said. “When you’re shooting over 80 percent from the foul line and as many we did, that definitely won it.”

On Saturday night, Dartmouth came out and made its first 11 shots to set the tone for the game. In the first half, both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor, in stark contrast to the night before. The Green went into the locker room at halftime up, 45-40, and stretched its lead to 10 midway through the second half. Elise Morrison established herself as a big post presence, and the Red defense had difficulty containing her.

“She’s going to have 15 to 18 points, and I think she had a few too many easy looks in the second half, just some isolation looks where we should have been in better position with our feet,” said Smith.

Karcic had the hot scoring hand for the Red, but got her fourth with 11 minutes left in the second half.

“We put Katie Romey in as a forward, which means playing four guards and one forward, and we were able to do a couple of things offensively and we were able to play a little bit of a press. I thought we responded real well, actually cutting the lead from 10 to going up two,” said Smith.

The Red held a 73-71 for nearly three minutes, but Morrison tied the game up with 1:47 left to play. Dartmouth grabbed a five-point lead, and Cornell could not catch up.

“We were up two, and the next three possessions, it was the same score, 73-71, and we didn’t capitalize on it, we didn’t draw a foul. Dartmouth was going to start scoring again so that was the three key possessions of the game,” said Smith.

Karcic netted a career-high 29 points, providing the offensive spark throughout the game. Coming back in with four fouls late in the game, Karcic completed a three-point play to bring the Red within two points with 16 seconds left.

“Some calls go your way and some calls don’t, I just try to still play aggressive when I’m in there. Coach told me ‘Can you play with four fouls?’ and I wanted to play, so she put me in, and I just tried to play smart,” said Karcic.

Despite the loss to Dartmouth, this weekend was still a success for the Red.

“It’s a positive weekend for us, and we have to remember that. We learned a lot about ourselves this weekend. [Dartmouth and Harvard are] two of the top teams in the conference, and we had a chance to beat Dartmouth and we beat Harvard. We can play with anyone if we come out ready to play,” said Smith.

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach