After starting the Ivy League season with 11 straight losses, the women’s basketball team finally earned a win, defeating Princeton (13-12, 5-7 Ivy) 76-61 on Saturday night to snap a losing streak dating back to Jan. 10. The victory was the Red’s third overall for the season, as the team improved its record to 3-22 (1-11 Ivy). Although Cornell still occupies the cellar of the Ivy League standings, the triumph gives the Red some needed momentum for its final two games of this year.
“Obviously, it was huge sigh of relief,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We are very excited. It’s like a weight has been taken off our shoulders. We worked really hard and kept fighting for this. All the hard work is paying off.”
The Red earned its first conference victory in convincing fashion, holding the lead from start to finish. In the first half Cornell shot over 58 percent from the floor and jumped out to an early 29-12 lead after 12 minutes of play.
“I think it was huge for us to get out to an early lead,” Smith said. “We hit our first four shots and played great team defense in the opening minutes. Anytime you start off hot, it is a huge factor. The players are starting to understand the importance of playing aggressive from the beginning.”
Princeton fought back with an 11-2 run to close out the opening half and cut the lead to two by scoring the first two baskets of the second session. But, that was as close as the Tigers would get, as the Red went on a scoring run of its own to push the advantage back to double-digits with under 12 minutes left.
While the team shot a season-best 53.3 percent from the floor, it was the Red’s free-throw shooting that sealed the victory. The team shot 23 of 26 from the line, while the Tigers only converted five shots from the charity stripe. The 26 attempts can be attributed to Cornell’s aggressiveness in its offensive sets.
“We talked this week about how we play aggressively for only spurts of the game,” Smith said. “We wanted to attack the hoop for the entire 40 minutes. Princeton applied pressure in the half court, and we felt we could take advantage of that. We felt we were a little quicker than them and they couldn’t stay with our guards. We were just keeping them on their toes and making them pay for being so aggressive on defense.”
The tremendous performance from the free-throw line was highlighted by sophomore Claire Perry, who sunk all eight of her attempts, and freshman Lindsay Krasna, who made all five of her shots from the charity stripe. Perry also led the team in scoring with a career-high 19 points. Along with Perry, four other Red players reached double digits, including freshmen Gretchen Gregg and Krasna, and sophomores Katherine Stritzl and Amy Lyon.
The night before Saturday’s victory, the Red lost its 12th in a row to Penn at The Palestra, 65-54. The defeat was the second to the Quakers in as many weeks, as the Red fell by only one in the previous meeting. In that game, a late Cornell rally came up short, as freshman Morgan Dickens missed what would have been the game-winning basket as time expired. This time around, the Red trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, but cut the lead to five by holding the Quakers to just one field goal in the final eight minutes of the game. However, the comeback came up short, as Penn iced the game with impressive free-throw shooting down the stretch.
Gregg led the Red, posting a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Krasna added 12 points of her own. However, the Red was unable to stop Penn’s center Jennifer Fleischer, who recorded her second double-double against the Red this season, with 15 points and 16 rebounds. She now has totaled 37 rebounds in two games against Cornell this year.
“Besides against Fleischer, we did a great job rebounding all weekend,” Smith said. “It was the first time all season that we out-rebounded both teams in an Ivy weekend.”
Even though the Red lost their 12th in a row on Friday night, the team will head into next weekend riding a one-game winning streak — the first time in a while it can make that claim.
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer