For the six seniors of the women’s basketball team, this weekend marks the final time they will don a Cornell uniform at Newman Arena, as the Red (8-15, 3-7 Ivy) welcomes Penn (14-8, 8-1 Ivy) and Princeton (6-16, 3-6 Ivy) for 7 p.m. contests on Friday and Saturday. Senior Night will take place on Saturday, and seniors Karen Force, Lauren Kilduff, Katie Romey, Dani Aretino, Tanya Karcic, and Meghan Fannon will be honored before the game.
“Our group is very good about going out and playing hard no matter what. I hope [the seniors] don’t put pressure on themselves. I hope it’s a fun night for them and a night we can make memorable and something they can look back on with fond memories,” said head coach Dayna Smith.
With five seniors in the starting lineup, the group has been able to form a unique bond over the course of the season.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team where the starting lineup has been one class. It’s great because we’ve all grown together since we were freshmen,” Force said. “We all have a lot of experience, we’ve grown into our positions and our roles, and it’s been a lot fun. We can pick each other up, we can pump each other up, we can talk to each other and teach each other. It’s a situation that’s been fun and exciting to be in all season long.”
These will be the team’s first home games in three weeks, and the Red hopes to snap its four-game losing streak. Last weekend, the Red dropped two contests against Harvard and Dartmouth. The Crimson avenged its two-point overtime loss to the Red in January, while Dartmouth swept Cornell for the second straight year. With four games left, the team has high expectations for the last two weeks of the season.
“We need to turn it up a notch. Despite injuries and despite our record, we want to go out on a strong note. We have high expectations. I want to improve every single day, and that’s been a goal of ours,” Smith said. “We have great opportunities this weekend and next weekend to get some W’s. It won’t be easy, but we know the formula, and we just have to execute it.”
After an 0-4 road trip, the Red looks to play spoiler and stop Penn’s run towards the Ivy League title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Quakers are currently at the top of the table, but Dartmouth is only one game back of first place.
Penn comes into Newman Arena with two of the top players in the league in Jewel Clark and Jennifer Fleischer. Clark is second in the league in scoring, averaging 19.7 points per game, while Fleischer is the league’s leading rebounding, with 9.9 rebounds per game.
The Tigers are one of the youngest teams in the league, with five underclassmen in the starting lineup. Princeton has struggled on the road this season, going 1-12 in games away from its home gym. Sophomore Rebecca Brown gives Princeton a strong presence in the post, as she is shooting 50 percent from the floor this season, averaging a team-high 14.0 points per game.
Having faced Penn and Princeton two weeks ago on the road, the Red is very familiar with its opponents, but needs to focus on its own game to get two important league wins.
“We have an idea of how Penn and Princeton are going to defend us, we know how we want to defend them, but we need to take care of our own business this weekend,” continued Smith.
Saturday’s contest against Princeton caps off Cornell’s celebration of National Women and Girls in Sports Day. There will be a women’s sports exhibition with demonstrations and clinics from several Cornell women’s teams in Bartels during the day and an autograph social following the game.
“We had a lot of fans [last year], it was something fun for the girls to go through the clinics of the other sports, and our players enjoyed it,” concluded Smith. “Hopefully they’ll see a fun game, and they’ll send off six seniors that have worked real hard. We’re looking forward to it, I think it’s going to be a fun evening.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach