Tipping off its home schedule for the 2005-06 season, the women’s basketball team (1-4) looks to break a three-game slide against Army on Friday evening before playing host Marist on Sunday.
“They are both strong and scrappy,” said freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons. “Though they are definitely both winnable games if we play up to our potential.”
Cornell will have to be playing near its best in order to slow down Army (3-2) and its potent offense. Through five games, the Cadets have averaged 75.0 points per game, including a 103-point outburst against Coast Guard.
Reigning Patriot League rookie of the year Cara Enright has led the charge for Army, leading the team’s scoring in every game en route to a 17.8 point per game average. The 5-10 guard has also posted 4.2 rebounds per game as well as 10 total assists.
Even without Enright, however, the Cadets have a slew of scoring options with eight more players averaging at least four or more points per contest. Starting upperclassmen Megan Vrabel (7.6 ppg), Erin Begonia (7.3 ppg) and Stefanie Stone (6.8 ppg) are all at the top of that list.
In Sunday’s match-up against Marist (1-4), the Red faces a team that has used its size to get much of its point output through inside scoring.
Six-foot forward Fifi Camara, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s pre-season player of the year, and 6-3 Center Meg Dahlman have been the primary offensive weapons for the Red Foxes. The duo has combined for 25 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, the Red, recently named the third youngest squad in all of Division I basketball with seven freshman and four sophomores, will have plenty of underclassmen talent to show off in front of the home crowd for the first time. In fact, freshman Jeomi Maduka and Fitzsimmons have been some of the team leaders through the early-going.
Earning all-tournament honors at both of the tournaments in which the Red have played, Maduka has established herself as the team’s premier frontcourt player.
Last Saturday, the rookie notched a double-double with 13 points and a monstrous 18-rebound effort in a 75-72 loss to UNH before pacing Cornell with 17 points and six rebounds against North Texas a day later.
For the season, Maduka’s 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game lead the Red. She has also been stellar on defense as well, leading the team with 13 steals and chipping in three blocks.
Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons has also put together a solid early-season as one of Cornell’s starting guards. Already, she has led the Red in scoring in two games, including her 15-point performance in just 20 minutes of action at UNH. Currently third on the scoring with 9.0 points per game, Fitzsimmons, with a .444 3-point field goal percentage, has also emerged as one of the Red’s top threats from beyond the arc.
Not to be outdone, junior Claire Perry and sophomores Lindsay Krasna and Megan Hughes have also played important roles as part of Cornell’s starting five. The three have combined to average over 25 points per game.
Cornell’s success should rest on its ability to keep up its intensity. Although, the Red barely fell to UNH, Fitzsimmons described that, in that contest, the Red had the mental make-up that they need to hold on to for the rest of the year.
“We play horrible when we lack intensity,” Fitzsimmons said. “Against UNH, we came out really wanting to win. We need that high intensity.”
Also, Cornell has worked hard to limit its turnovers – the team has been averaging about 22 per game – that has plagued the squad in every game.
“We’ve been working all week in practice to eliminate stupid turnovers,” Fitzsimmons said.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer