November 19, 2007

W. Basketball Falls to W. Va.

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The women’s basketball team began its season ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League, while the Mountaineers of West Virginia (3-0) began the season ranked No. 18 in the nation. After welcoming the Red (1-2) to the WVU Coliseum yesterday, West Virginia head coach Mike Carey improved to 35-1 in non-conference home games by defeating Cornell, 93-52.
“West Virginia is a very good, balanced team,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “They’re very explosive and went on long and very productive runs. We couldn’t really climb back in. They played like they’re 18th in the country.”
Despite the challenge of facing a nationally ranked opponent, The Red jumped out to an early 12-4 lead, taking advantage of four consecutive 3-point field goals; three from junior Kayleen Fitzsimmons and another from sophomore Lauren Benson.
“We came out on fire,” Smith said. “I was very proud of that; we weren’t intimidated by them early on. We were running the ball and executing the half-court sets we thought would work. We freed up some of our shooters and were able to get some 3s early on.”
Fitzsimmons, a West Virginia native, scored Cornell’s first bucket and ended the game with a team-high 15 points.
“I thought Kayleen played great and was very excited to play in front of family,” Smith said. “She came out very focused. That’s two games in a row now that she’s played good basketball. Hopefully we can keep her going.”
The Red held the lead for the first 9:20 of the game, until a 14-4 West Virginia run put the Mountaineers ahead for the first time since the opening basket. West Virginia extended the lead to 28-16 before a 3-pointer from Benson brought Cornell back to within single digits, trailing 28-19 with 7:19 left in the half.
The Mountaineers and Red traded baskets for the next several possesions to bring the score to 39-28 with just under three minutes left in the first. West Virginia took control of the game at that point, finishing the half on a 9-2 run to head into halftime with a 48-30 lead.
“They’re a fantastic team; very athletic and very strong,” Smith said. “I was happy with our first half. I thought we did a good job. We expected them to come back and make that big run, but we hung with them in the first half, and we were able to do some really good things.”
In the second half, the Mountaineers picked up where they left off at the end of the first and slowly pulled away from the under-matched Red. Despite being able to keep up with West Virginia for a good portion of the game, the Red lost pace in the second, losing by a 41-point margin.
West Virginia forward Chakhia Cole led the charge in the second half, scoring the Mountaineers’ first nine points after the intermission. Cole ended the game with 17 points on 8-10 shooting to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
All-American forward Meg Bulger came off the bench for the Mountaineers to score 21 points in 20 minutes, highlighted by connecting on four of six attempts from behind the three-point arc. As a team, West Virginia shot 50 percent from the floor, including a 43.8 percent mark from three-point territory.
The Red was held to 32.7 percent shooting and connected on only 64.3 percent of free-throw attempts, compared to the 48.8 percent from the floor and 85.2 percent mark from behind the charity stripe Cornell posted in Thursday’s win against Lafayette. One difference between the two games was the involvement of the forwards on the inside.
“Our guards played very well, but we didn’t score as many points in the paint as I would have liked to,” Smith said.
Benson added 11 points to go with Fitzsimmons’ team-high 15. But the frontcourt trio of junior co-captain Moina Snyder, junior Jeomi Maduka and junior Shannan Scarselletta combined for only 16 points. Snyder’s 12 points came on a 5-11 performance from the floor, marking the first missed shots of the season for Cornell’s second most efficient shooter in school history.