The saying goes that all good things must come to an end, and for the women’s basketball team, its best start in Ivy League play since the 2001-02 season came to an end this weekend with losses to Dartmouth and Harvard on the road.
Reigning Ivy League champion Dartmouth (14-4, 5-0) defeated Cornell 93-70 – the second-highest point-total the Red has given up all season. Harvard (7-11, 3-2), which lost to the Green in a playoff game last season to determine the Ivy League champion, then capped the weekend by edging out Cornell, 80-71.
“We played both defending champions,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “It was going to take our best effort and we just didn’t have it.”
The Red’s defense, especially one-on-one and in transition, failed to execute. Despite scoring around 70 points in both contests, Cornell allowed its opponents to shoot over 50 percent in each game, including a 64.8 percent showing from Dartmouth.
In that game, Dartmouth shot 17-of-27 in the first half and 18-of-27 in the second half. The Green was ahead 46-25 at the half, and although the second half was nearly even in terms of points scored, the Red’s 45 points was still topped by the Green’s 47 points.
“I was disappointed with our effort defensively,” said Smith. “We fought back in the second half, but down 20 points, it’s a little hard to come back.”
Freshman Jeomi Maduka led the Red against Dartmouth with 14 points and 12 rebounds – including seven on the offensive glass – for her seventh career double-double. Junior Claire Perry had 13 points, and senior Sarah Brown had a career-high 13 points off the bench.
The Red out-rebounded the Green, 31-30, and had 17 offensive boards to the Green’s six. But inefficiency plagued the Red’s offense. The team had 32 and 33 field-goal attempts in the first and second half, respectively, but only made 34.4 percent of its first-half shots and 48.5 percent of its shots in the second half. The team also had more turnovers than the Green.
“They’re a strong team. Their shots were on, they were hitting everything,” said Shannan Scarselletta, who led Cornell with 21 minutes off the bench, and had three rebounds. “We just weren’t executing.”
The same problems troubled Cornell the next night against Harvard.
“Again, we gave up a lot of points,” Smith said. “[On] simple plays, we were out of position.