Coming back from 10 points down early in the second half, the women’s basketball team eked out a 56-54 win at Pennsylvania on Saturday to clinch its best Ivy League season since its 2001-02 campaign. The victory came on the heels of a 76-63 defeat at Princeton (16-6, 7-2 Ivy) the night before.
“Overall, we played pretty well for the weekend,” said sophomore Lindsay Krasna. “We didn’t play poorly against Princeton, but it was good to come back Saturday night against Penn.”
In the contest with the Quakers (4-18, 2-7), Cornell’s freshman phenom Jeomi Maduka led all scorers with 21 points off of 10-for-21 shooting. Krasna also put in a strong effort, chipping in with 14 points and five rebounds without missing a minute of action.
Though the Red (8-15, 5-5) jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, the game remained a back-and-forth affair until the score was knotted at 26-26 with a little over five minutes to play. At that point, Penn went on an 8-0 run – including six points in the paint – to take a 34-26 halftime advantage.
Quickly extending their lead to its widest margin, the Quakers enjoyed a 40-30 lead three minutes into the second half. The Cornell defense, however, settled down at that point and held Penn to just four field goals from that point on. Overall, the Quakers shot just 23.8 percent from the field in the second half.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and did a good job on their center, Jen Fleischer,” Krasna said. “It was also a big factor that we didn’t give them many second-chance points.”
Meanwhile, Cornell’s sluggish offense suddenly sputtered to life. A quick 7-0 run – catalyzed by two baskets and an assist from Maduka – put the Red right back in the game.
“We beat them before so we knew we could come back,” Krasna said. “We knew we were still in it and showed a lot of character in coming back.”
Penn maintained its lead until the 6:33 mark, when Cornell freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons sank a trey to put the Red on top, 46-45. Immediately fighting back, the Quakers scored four straight points to take back the lead.
However, Fitzsimmons then came through with another 3-point basket and the Red closed the game on a 10-5 run to escape with the victory.
Besides the impressive defensive turnaround in the second half, the other key to Cornell’s win was the ball control by its offense. The Red committed just eight turnovers – over 11 below its season average – leading to only six Quaker points.
“We’re definitely getting better with that,” Krasna said. “We know that in a close game every possession matters, so we have to take care of the ball. We really worked our sets and looked for the best shot.”
In Friday night’s contest at Princeton, on the other hand, the Red had difficulty hanging on to the ball. Cornell ended up committing 20 turnovers in the game, leading to 30 Princeton points.
Struggling on just 6-of-20 shooting in the first half, the Red faced a 32-22 deficit by halftime. Though the Cornell offense came to life in the second half, its defense found no way to slow the Tiger’s attack, giving up 44 points in the period en route to the defeat.
Maduka and Krasna combined for 26 points in the losing effort. On the other side of the court, Princeton’s Becky Brown and Katy O’Brien led all scorers with 19 points apiece.
The Tigers held a 35-28 edge on the glass and collected 15 second-chance points.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer