The women’s basketball team has lost two times already this season in Ivy play — falling at the hands of Columbia in both games. In the second contest, the Red played hard, but came up just short, as the Lions squeaked out a five-point win. However, almost doesn’t count in the win column, and so the Red finds itself at 0-2 in conference play.
Fortunately for the team, the conference schedule does not consist of only two games — but rather 14 — giving the Red ample time to right the ship. The team will get its a chance to do just that this weekend on the road against rivals Harvard and Dartmouth.
“We are really excited about our chances,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We are ready for these Ivy League games. This is what we worked for all year. The slate is clean once we hit the Ivy League.”
Harvard (8-6, 0-1 Ivy League) enters tomorrow’s meeting with the Red coming off a tough loss earlier this month to Dartmouth. The Crimson trailed the Green by 19 points midway through the second half, but climbed all the back to force overtime, before falling, 73-70.
Harvard was led in the contest by its senior leader Reka Cserny, who posted her fourth double-double of the season with 25 points and 10 boards. It was the fourth game in a row in which Cserny had scored at least 25 points, upping her average to a league-leading 20.8 points a game — putting her in position for her fourth straight first team All-Ivy League selection. Her scoring average this season is more than five points better than the next best in the league.
“[Reka] is a 6-3 forward who plays like a guard,” Smith said. “She is going to be the one we are going to have to key in on and try to contain. We are going to have to mix up our defense and make sure we are packing the middle. But at the same time, we are going to have to pressure their guards.”
Dartmouth (5-8, 1-0 Ivy League) may be the most balanced team in the conference, with two legitimate stars on the roster. Its win-loss record is extremely deceiving, as it is a by-product of a tough schedule and injuries. However, the Green is now back at full strength and the combination of junior guard Jeannie Cullen and a now-healthy junior center in Elise Morrison. “They have the best inside-outside game as any team in the league,” Smith said. “When Dartmouth is clicking, they are going to be extremely tough to beat.”
That inside-outside game begins with Cullen, who has one of the deadliest shots in the league. In her career at Dartmouth, Cullen has hit 158 three-pointers, putting her just shy of the top-10 in that category in league history. This season, she stands at third in the conference in scoring average at 15.1 points per game.
In the game against Harvard, Cullen scored 19 points, including two crucial 3’s in overtime to seal the win. Just last week, Cullen continued her outstanding play in games against Central Connecticut and Virginia — earning her the award for Ivy League Player of the Week.
“[Cullen] is so creative,” Smith said. “She is going to capitalize on whichever way you play her. If you play off she’ll hit the three, and If you play her tight she’ll drive to the basket.”
If the Red is going to come away with a win this weekend, it must receive a high scoring output from freshman Lindsey Krasna and sophomore Claire Perry, but most of all, it must play as a cohesive unit defensively according to Smith.
“We have been playing terrific defense the last three weeks and that is what we are going to focus on,” Smith said. “We need to rely on team defense and working with one another.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer