January 19, 2007

Basketball Teams Seek Wins in Big Apple

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Just a month ago, the women’s basketball team appeared to be nowhere close to hitting its stride as it struggled to an 0-7 record in the first few weeks of its season.

However, after winning six of its last eight contests, including a sweep of Penn and Princeton in its first weekend of Ivy League play, the Red (7-9, 2-0 Ivy) has plenty of momentum going into tomorrow’s afternoon matchup at Columbia (3-12, 0-2 Ivy).

[img_assist|nid=20803|title=Pass first|desc=Junior Moina Snyder (11) and the women’s basketball team will defend their perfect league record tomorrow.|link=node|align=left|width=70|height=100]

“We have a lot of talent. We’re just a new, young team and had trouble clicking together at the beginning,” said junior Moina Snyder. “We’ve just really started focusing on working as a team and it’s worked.”

Even if wins over Colgate, Wagner, Ithaca College and NJIT during the holiday season did not convince Ivy foes that the Cornell team was a force to be reckoned with, last weekend’s victories over the Quakers and Tigers should have turned some heads.

“It was a really big weekend for us,” Snyder said. “It was a good way to start what we want to accomplish. I think we surprised some people. We went to battle as a team and won together.”

In Friday’s contest at Penn, the Red erased an early 16-point deficit and used a 26-4 run to cruise to a 67-58 win.

A day later at Princeton, the Red knocked off the defending Ivy League co-champions via some clutch defense and free throw shooting down the stretch. After coming back from 13 points down, the Tigers seized a 66-65 lead with just minutes left. However, as Cornell’s defense shut down the Princeton offense, the Red managed to sink 5-of-6 free throw attempts at the other end of the courts to collect the 70-66 victory.

Currently with a half-game lead in the Ivy standings, Cornell has the chance to move its conference record to 3-0 for the first time in 10 years. However, although Columbia has struggled through the first-half of its season, the Lions have plenty of talent to give Cornell a stiff challenge.

“It should be a great game,” Snyder said. “They play with the same passion as us and have come through the same struggle as we have to come together as a team. I don’t think either team will give up the game easily.”

Senior guard Megan Griffith is the primary play-maker on the Columbia roster, leading her team with 13.7 points per game and 59 assists on the season. Meanwhile, the all-around of play Danielle Browne, Britney Carfora and Chelsea Frazier should also have an impact on the contest. The trio has combined for 23.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.

Cornell should also be wary that the Lions have played well in front of a friendly crowd, earning all three of their victories at home opposed to just two losses there.

If last weekend’s play is any indicator, the Red should be more than up for the test. Each of Cornell’s starting guards came through with a big game in that road swing, as sophomore Kayleen Fitzsimmons led the squad with 17 points against Penn and senior Claire Perry paced the Red with 20 points at Princeton.

Meanwhile, the Cornell frontcourt of sophomores Shannan Scarselletta and Jeomi Maduka teamed with Snyder to post an impressive performance against the Tigers, combining for 42 points and 20 boards.

For the season, Maduka leads Cornell with 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Snyder, Perry and Fitzsimmons also contribute a bulk of the Red’s offense, each averaging just above eight points per game, while Fitzsimmons leads the squad with 36 total assists.