The women’s basketball team (7-14, 4-4 Ivy) entered last weekend’s home stand with two tests – a difficult match-up with the Ancient Eight’s second-place squad, Brown, and a much easier contest against Yale.
In the first game, Cornell came up just short of beating Brown (13-8, 7-1), falling 71-68. The team bounced back the next night, however, handily defeating last-place Yale (2-19, 1-7) by a score of 79-68 behind career performances from rookie Jeomi Maduka and sophomore Lindsay Krasna.
“It would have been nice to get the Brown win,” Krasna said. “We were going into the game expecting to win.”
The Red had to play both contests without the services of two of its regular starters, junior Claire Perry and freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons. Both are out indefinitely due to concussions. Perry sustained her injury in last week’s action and Fitzsimmons suffered her ailment in practice last week.
Fitzsimmons – the team’s point guard – was replaced by senior Hillary Seidel in the starting lineup, while senior Sarah Brown broke into the starting-five for Perry. Although the two were making their first starts of the year, both players brought needed experience to the Ivy League’s youngest team as it faced a Brown squad looking to win the Ancient Eight title for the first time since 1994.
In a game that had nine lead changes, the Red came back from a 10-point deficit to take a two-point lead halfway through the second frame. But the Red allowed a late 7-1 run by the Bears, and despite getting two shots at the game-tying field-goal, it missed both attempts. The Red’s shot at the buzzer went off the front of the rim to the disappointment of both the home team and its fans.
“I think it was a good effort by the team. It should never have come down to what it came down to,” said Maduka, who led Cornell with 19 points and 10 rebounds, her eighth career double-double. “We had the momentum the whole time.”
Maduka was upset that she only went one-of-two from the free throw line in the closing minutes, missing a point that she felt could have swung the outcome of the game. But Krasna disagreed that only one play was to blame for the loss.
“I thought we put up a good fight,” Krasna said. “I think we struggled a little bit on [defense]. They really shot the lights out. It always seems like teams do that to us. It was very back and forth.”
The Red allowed the Bears to shoot over 48 percent from the floor, while the Bears held the Red to only 39.6 percent. The Red shot 75 percent from the free-throw line and was out-rebounded 37-29. Cornell had a season-low nine turnovers in comparison to Brown’s 13 miscues.
Senior Brittani Rettig had a career-high 11 points while Seidel also had a career-high in points – notching 12 along with her five assists.
In the Yale victory, Cornell led by as many as 20 points on its way to an 11-point victory.
Led by career-highs in points from Maduka and Krasna, the Red built a 10-point halftime advantage, a lead they would never relenquish.
“They’re a scrappy team and they’re really aggressive. But we did a really good job of being aggressive,” Krasna said.
Maduka had 29 points for the Red – the highest total of any Cornell player this season – going 11-of-14 from the free-throw line while adding eight rebounds. Making the feat more impressive, she played only 26 minutes after fouling out.
“I stepped up at the free throw line,” Maduka said. “For some reason, whenever I shoot well at the free throw line