November 15, 2007

W. Cagers Readies for Home Opener

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Women’s basketball opens its home season tonight at 7 pm with a game against the Lafayette Leopards. In the last meeting, the Leopards prevailed 76-60 over the Red. The all-time series between the two teams is tied at seven.
This year, both teams are coming off close games that were decided in the last few seconds. The Red lost to Long Island 55-53 on a tie-breaking buzzer-beater from Valerie Nainima while the Leopards’ Vanessa Van de Venter made a lay-up with three seconds left to lift Lafayette over Monmouth, 65-64.
Cornell played much better in the second half of its season-opener, with 32 of its 53 points coming after halftime. The Red will look to capitalize on the momentum from the second half of last game.
“We’ll try to shut it on in the first half rather than waiting for the second half,” said junior Jeomi Maduka, who led the Red with 16 points and eight rebounds in the season opener. “We play really well together, even in practice, and we were just getting away from that in the first half; something just clicked in the second half and we started playing like we normally do.”
To compete with Lafayette, the Red defense will have to be ready for a versatile Leopard offense led by forwards Van de Venter and LaKeisha Wright.
“They have a lot of different looks,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “They have athletic forwards that play on the perimeter. Sometimes they run a four-guard offensive set so we have to really play a team defense. We’ll have to stop the transition, they do like to run the ball and push it up to their forwards, that’ll be a big key for us (tonight).”
The Leopards also do not rely on one player; last game, the well-rounded squad had two players with double-digit points and another with nine points.
All three of the Leopard freshman got playing time against Monmouth.
“It’s not one person that we can key on,” Smith said. “We have to pay attention more to the offensive philosophy than anything; it’s going to take a team effort.”
On offense, the Red will look to Maduka and senior forward Moina Snyder for firepower. Snyder did not miss a shot all game, going 5-5 from the floor. Sophomore Lauren Benson contributed with eight assists, the most in a single game by a Cornell player since 2005.
Between playing at home and the momentum from the game, the Red is feeling optimistic about its home season opener.
“Basically, we’re excited to play our first home game,” said sophomore Virginia McMunigal. “It’s always nice to play at home and hopefully we’ll get a good crowd out there.”