When junior guard Claire Perry of the women’s basketball team stepped onto her home court against Columbia (4-13, 0-4 Ivy) this past weekend, no one could have been sure what she was thinking.
Perhaps she was reminding herself that a win would give Cornell (6-11, 3-1) its best start to an Ivy League season in four years. Maybe she was trying to remember the last time the Red had swept the season series against the Lions (1998-1999 season).
Whatever thoughts she was having, they helped her to a career day in Cornell’s 64-55 win over Columbia, the team’s first season sweep of an Ivy League squad in three years.
“Coming into the game, my shot was really off,” Perry said. “I was really nervous.”
Perry settled down enough to reach career highs with 23 points and 17 rebounds – including 12 boards in the first half – while staying perfect from the free throw line. Perry’s 17 rebounds was the third-highest single-game total of any player in the Ivy League this season, and the performance earned her Ivy League Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
Perry is ranked second on the Red in scoring (12.9 points per game), rebounding (5.3 rebounds per game), and steals (1.38 per game). But, it’s her lethal shooting that has marked her season.
Perry is the Ancient Eight’s top shooter statistically, leading the league in three-point percentage (.489) and free-throw percentage (.919), while owning the third-best field-goal percentage (.496). No other player is in the top-3 in all three shooting categories.
Although this season has gone well for Perry, her Cornell career has been plagued by injury.
The guard suffered through a recurrence of a pre-existing knee injury as a freshman, limiting her to only five games for the entire season.
Last season, Perry was able to maintain her form. Starting 26-of-27 games, she was the Red’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, netting 10.5 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game, respectively. She also hit a team-high 31 3-pointers, all while playing over 28 minutes per game.
But, unlike this season, Perry’s shooting was not nearly as accurate. She shot only 35.7 percent from the field, including 29.2 percent from behind the 3-point line, as Cornell suffered through a 3-24 season that included only one win in the Ivy League.
“I worked on my shot a lot this summer because I was not allowed to run. So I did a lot of stand-still shooting,” said Perry, who is limited to only running during games because of the numerous surgeries on her left knee.
Perry’s constant struggle with injuries has also included battling a concussion that knocked her out of five games this season, as well as increased rest after reinjuring the knee last season.
Despite these problems, Perry has been able to improve her shooting each season, thanks in part to the Red’s rejuvenated inside game.
“We only have five forwards, but every single one brings something to the game,” Perry said. “Having them in there definitely opens up shots for us.”
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer