January 29, 2007

W. Cagers Off to Record Start

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With its strongest offensive performance of the season, the women’s basketball team (8-9, 4-0 Ivy) defeated Columbia (4-14, 0-4) 83-70 Saturday afternoon to improve its Ivy League record to 4-0 for the first time in program history.

“We’re really excited about it,” said sophomore forward Shannan Scarselletta. “It’s a cool thing to be part of, but I can’t say that I’m all that surprised that we did it. We all came here wanting to win and we’re not satisfied with just these four wins. We’re definitely not happy just stopping here.”

Cornell seems to have the momentum to continue its run in conference play, having won eight of its last 10 games.

Meanwhile, the Red’s 83-point outburst against the Lions is not only the second-highest-scoring game for the team under head coach Dayna Smith, but it is also a 13-point increase over this season’s previous high.

Junior Moina Snyder and sophomore Jeomi Maduka led the offensive outburst against Columbia. Snyder recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Maduka contributed 18 points, hitting all seven of her field-goal attempts. Scarselletta also added 12 points and four rebounds.

Overall, eight players scored at least five points and the team connected on 60.4 percent of its field goal attempts.

“We really focused on shot selection. We looked for the open shot rather than forcing them,” Scarselletta said. “Everybody trusts each other so much that we just look for the open person and everyone ends up contributing.”

At the other end of the court, Cornell held Columbia to a 45.6 shooting percentage on the game — including just 37percent in first half, when the Red opened up a sizable lead. Meanwhile, Cornell managed to control the boards finishing the game with a 38-22 advantage.

“We talk a lot about it in practice,” Scarselletta said. “We want to make them take bad shots and then everyone works for the rebound. We have a great defensive strategy and we really focus on our team defense and being vocal. We’re really clicking with that right now.”

Although Columbia led 9-8 a little over five minutes into the game, the Red used a 16-0 run to establish a commanding 24-9 lead. Trading baskets for much of the rest of the first half, Cornell headed into the break with a 41-28 advantage.

Opening the half with a 12-6 run, the Lions worked themselves back into the game, cutting the lead to 47-40 with 15:22 to play. That would be as close as Columbia would get, however, as the Red used an 11-3 run to go up 58-43. Cornell maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.

“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t let up after the strong first half,” Scarselletta said. “We took it as a personal challenge; we know we can be a second-half team. … We just imagined that the score was 0-0 and that we needed to win every possession.”